Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tutelage in relaxation

Not pictured - the kid at the rear sorting Micron's Tail of
Wondrous Beauty by shade of coat color.

Nothing too scary, ok? says Micron. I'm of a delicate nature. And not one about cats either. Those give me really weird nightmares. He shudders slightly.  Maybe a story about food?

I've got Star Wars: Bounty Hunters for Hire, says the young reader.

That'll do, Micron agrees.

The big dog prepares himself for another evening of listening to stories at our local Brookville branch of the Dayton Metro Library.  The monthly Paws to Read event where Micron can [cough] work as a Therapy Dog. A reading tutor, of sorts.

As Micron rests with eyes closed, our young friend reads to Micron about Jango Fett and his cloned offspring. As each page is finished, the book is turned so Micron can see the pictures. Look, Micron, says our reader. And Micron does. He opens his eyes and lifts his head to get a clear look. He blinks, but doesn't put his head down until the book is turned away. He does this every time.

The dog has a gift for this work.

A good group of kids this evening, we have six readers to share the dog with. All are at different reading levels, but Micron doesn't notice this. He pays no mind when a word is sounded out by syllable or during the occasional pauses as the reader takes a moment for comprehension of the story. Micron doesn't care a cat's whisker about reading skills. His reasons for being here are as pure as only a dog's can be.

He just wants to be near the kids. To be quietly among their presence and enjoy them.

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but . . .
Always a good idea to let everyone settle for a couple of minutes to get to know each other a little before getting things started. Micron is introduced to the readers with a short bio and his job description. Once again I find myself in that warm glow of being so proud of this fellow and his chosen vocation. This is absolutely where this dog should be, I know it and . . . Ack! Micron! Leave it!

Oh my. Love at first sight for my obviously myopic dog. Micron is entranced by a pair of furry boots. Well, only the left one, really. It must have more personality or something.

This calls for a dog cookie distraction . . . and he's back. Alrighty, time to get things started here.

And so our young readers select an interesting looking book from the selection the children's librarian has set out on display for them. They sit and crack open their chosen tome as Micron relaxes into his favorite story listening position. Which is pretty much just being prone. He says this is intended as a non-intimidating posture to relax the kids.  I say I wonder if I should hold a mirror up to his nose to see if he's still breathing.

Just relax, my young reader friend.

Over the next hour we learn about interstellar bounty hunters, follow along with adventures of brave woodland critters, and laugh out loud at a funny story of a very silly squirrel. And Micron listens to every word.  His eyes are closed, but he's not asleep.  He very much looks like he's enjoying the experience.

You can tell here that he's fully engaged. Because for one thing, he's not snoring. A tell tale sign that he's outa here, mentally speaking. And also because he has one paw firmly on the reader to keep going.  Tell me more.

That belly rub going on there is just a job perk.

Micron insists that this is indeed work. It must be, because he leaves totally exhausted and that's what work does, right? Well, if you're doing it right anyway.

It takes a lot to be this engaging, Food Lady. he tells me. I mean, I have to stay awake the whole time and stuff.  

Do what you love, they say, and you'll never work a day in your life.

And you know what? If I ever doubted that before, I now know it to be true.

Our mighty Micron is proof. I can honestly say this dog has never worked a day in his life.

[gasp] Our children would be . . . Gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: I can see my future from here

I was looking at this photo from last fall, taken at a Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association fundraising event, and rolling through the noggin what it reminded me of.

Ah yes, it puts me in mind of those yearbook photos of days gone by. We know today's photo shoots of our high school seniors involve changes of clothes and scenery, a professional make-up session, and the obligatory bank loan to pay for the things.  But back in the day, we simply showed up in our best dress or leisure suit and sat on a black stool to gaze off into the distance with a toothy smile on our mugs.

We're looking off into our bright futures, our expressions would say on our senior portraits.

And that's what it seems that the Mighty Micron is doing here as well. Not long after his graduation from mvPTa  as a Therapy Dog, he's imagining what's out there awaiting him. Where will he be needed most? What can he do to change someone's world for a day? How can he provide a sense of peace and comfort to a person in need of such things?

Or perhaps, considering the spot of drool on that lower lip, he's merely watching a squirrel. You never know with Micron. The waters run deep in this fellow, but sometimes the brain cells get caught up in a whirlpool.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Euka thanks you for your fashion advice

I'm ready to clean up and look
real purty now, says Euka
A few days ago on an earlier blog post, we asked admirers of the lovely Euka what her next look should be, collar-wise.  With the links we provided to WooferWear Dog Collars* on Etsy, you all shared your favorites with us.

We had thirty six votes for twenty different designs, all clever looks and somehow all perfect for Euka as well. And with each new suggestion, I was looking at some of the designs with fresh eyes. Of course! I'd cry. Why didn't I notice this one before? Making it obvious that I can't possibly be left on my own to decide.

But some choices rose to the top of the list, making the most popular design among you an easy thing.

Kind of.

You see, recall that Nancee at WooferWear makes these collars by hand, right?  Using top quality materials she stitches these with care and love to post on her Etsy catalogue. So when you hit the site, what you see is what you can get.  When a collar is purchased, it could possibly be the only one available. Such is the way with artists and their work.

And the hands down most popular look for Miss Euka was the Darling Dahlia design.  I'd show you what this looks like, but well, it's not available right now.  Of course, we'll check with Nancee to see if she has this design in her creation queue to make again sometime soon.  In the meantime, let's move onto the other top picks.

Hoot Owls
Hoot Owls by WooferWear
Behind the Darling Dahlia design, we had a tie among Hoot Owls and Peace Out, with Colorful Blooms and Got Bones right behind.

Another fine suggestion we had was to consider purchasing at least two collars for Euka. By at least two, I mean some folk said to get one each of the hundred plus designs. But two? I like that thought.  One for everyday and another for nice. A show collar, so to speak.  One that is always clean and professional that we could snap on for looking fine at presentations and such. I'm good with that.

So yeah, two. Good idea, people. And here's something that makes that concept even more palatable. You know I wouldn't take Euka out of the house without her CCI ID tag, so how to swap collars without getting out the pliers to reattach her tag bling every time?

Tag Collars
Tag collar by WooferWear
Here's how. WooferWear also makes a handy tag collar. That is, a collar for tags to go on the dog collar. We bought this clever accessory with Micron's collar well over a year ago and the thing is hanging tough. Just a matter of a quick buckle release to remove his bling when the collar needs a clean up. Easy peasy.

That's great, you say. Sounds like you got things covered. But it feels a little like a diversion, too. Have you actually told us yet what designs you're getting for Euka?

Peace Out Dog Collar
Peace Out by WooferWear

Oh yeah. That.  Ok, so here's my plan. Let's run with the assumption that the demand for Darling Dahlias can be met. If we can check that one off, then Hoot Owls (photo above) will be the second design, with those snappy little pink owls on a brown background. Otherwise, I think, we can move on to Peace Out, a fresh look in bright colors. Nancee can put this design on a pink webbing to get this all girly for us.

How's that sound to y'all?  Thanks to everyone for your fashion advice. Because I couldn't have done this on my own.


You know how that one time you looked down and noticed you actually had two different color of shoes on?  One navy blue pump and the other was black? You know how it was just that one time? Lucky.

Right. So Euka sends her eternal thanks for guiding me along in selecting her next fashionable look.  She has an image to protect, she says, being kind of a big deal and all. And she can't trust someone who wears knee high hose with sandals.


*From WooferWear's Shop Announcement

Every dog deserves a stylish look! Come browse these custom dog collars for your favorite dog. Each collar is handmade from strong, durable materials. A percentage of all proceeds benefits Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities free of charge (

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Why I don't always fill the water bowl

Whu. . . ? No, [yawn] I'm not napping, says Euka. Hey,
while you're up, the water bowl needs filling.
Jager, in his valiant quest for a sip of water sans the retriever backwash, has repeatedly requested his own water bowl.  And it's not like I'm totally ignoring this worthy life goal, but really more that I'm just too lazy to mess with a personalized trough for each dog.

Because sure nuff, as soon as I shlosh down three water bowls, they will all decide to drink out of the same one anyway. It's clinically proven, kind of.  Because this is exactly what happens with the dog beds.

If they're gonna fuss over the same bed / tennis ball / water bowl / cat, then why have more than one hanging around to trip over?

Food Lady?  Maybe turn up
the heat a little?
So that answers that. The challenge this presents, of course, is keeping up with the continual hydration demand of three active canines. Which means that occasionally someone will happen by just to find the water bowl, well, bone dry.

But being the kind of girl that can make lemonade out of an empty water bowl, Euka takes it all in stride.  If the thing isn't holding water, then perhaps it could simply support her weary head while she naps.

I wuvs my water bowl, says two month old Euka II. zzzzzz[snert]

The photo at top is Euka now at seven months, gently resting her noggin for a cat nap. And the one at left is just before her three month birthday.



Be sure to check out . . .

Going all out Diva style to help us choose some bling for our lovely girl. Euka has been around me long enough to know not to trust my fashion sense. She's counting on you for this one.

We're tallying up the suggestions and will announce the popular choice on April 21, 2013.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

That ain't chocolate

I will call him . . . the Mighty Mini Micron.
And finally his name is no longer ironic.
Being a somewhat new empty nester, I find myself in that awkward limbo of having no kids in the house. With the Favorite Kid off on his own and biding his time before filling my order of a grandkid, some things in life are, well, just not as much fun.

Yet I still feel a calling to be involved in youthful activities, especially around the holidays. I know, y'all. There's nobody stopping me from creative pumpkin carving in October or in the spring, getting out the vinegar and food coloring for Easter eggs. I'm totally free to do these things in the privacy of my home in spite of my advanced years. And I do so love these occasions to use the right side of my brain, but emotionally there is something missing without a child's imagination to spur me on.

So I'm left with the next best thing of Post Holiday Clearance shopping. The day after Easter is a bonanza of discounted chocolate at our local market. A veritable cornucopia of diet busting temptation at reasonable prices. Really, like Butterfingers in the shape of tiny quail eggs would lose their crunchy goodness outside of a pastel basket. (Hint: they don't).  And there's enough unsold chocolate bunnies that it looks like their reputation for enthusiastic procreation holds true for these genre of Lepus* as well.

The clearance table is not just a display of empty calories, of course.  My attention shifts from wondering why Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs are never on clearance over to the shelf of cutesy stuffed plush toys. What's this now? A box of miniature dogs wearing tiny bunny ears. Genius! Ignoring the sidelong glance of the shopper next to me (did I say Genius out loud? Yeah, I think I did), I'm going in with both hands trying to find a stuffed dog that is not a Dalmatian or bulldog. Yes! I cry. I've scored me a mini Micron. It's gonna be a good day.

Ooh, the photo shoot is appearing in my mind's eye. Micron in white bunny ears smiling while posing next to his teensy doppelganger. Perhaps another one of him sniffing it, nose to button nose. I think I can do that. This is going to be so stinkin' adorable, I can't wait to go home and set this up.

We'll do this outside where the light is better.  Euka can play with a frisbee while I spend some creative time with Micron. But I see a need to resolve a little problem first.  The frisbee is fresh from the store and brand new, which makes it a High Value item. Both dogs want to play with the thing and have no intentions of sharing this OMG experience with each other. Ever. At least not today.

Youth gives Euka the advantage of speed and agility.  She ducks and dodges Micron's valient attempts to reclaim the priceless red disc. Euka puts a cap on the exercise by positioning under some brush to neener at Micron's failure to outmaneuver her.  He's defeated and he knows it. And he's not happy about that. Not at all.

So in retaliation, he does the only thing that comes to his canine noggin.  This will show the little bratty, he thinks.

Aliens with dreadlocks can't see me.**
[sigh] Why am I always the loser in these deals? I'm standing, mouth agape, still holding the mini Micron and bunny ears in my hands. Wait a sec . . . he's not looking at the puppy. That eye contact is lasered on me.  That expression, the canine body language. Holy cow, I think the dog is giving me the finger.

Love you, says Micron. Mmmwah!
Um, Food Lady. says Euka.
You may not want to turn around.
He knows about the bunny ears. And it would seem the yeller feller has had just enough of this.

Ugh. You know what? Fine. Just, well, that's fine. We came out here to get a picture and so you're still getting the ears. So deal with it, big guy.

I slam the mini Micron on the fence (Stay!, I growl at the insentient being) and pose the muddy Micron in the foreground. White bunny ears are affixed upon the yellow noggin. While I shift my attention to focus the lens, Mr. Passive Aggressive pretends to work on an itch and wiggles the head bopper off. Nice try there, Buster Brown, I say. This is actually happening. You can wipe that smirky grin off and let's do this thing. 

Before we came out here, I had a dreamy vision of what I wanted.

This wasn't it.

It was so worth it, says Micron.
Oh, but it gets better.  My usual answer to this would be to simply spray down the goober dog with the garden hose. But as a matter of poor planning, we'd turned off the water supply while awaiting a plumbing repair to that particular pipe. Hey, no hurry, we thought. It's winter. We don't need the hose for a while.

So, what to do now? Take him to a self-service doggie wash? No, that would involve chauffering the dripping fur monster in the car.  Put down the top on the old convertible and run the whole shebang, dog and all, through the automatic car wash? Oh! Maybe all three dogs? Hey, that would be rather thrifty, wouldn't it? But darn it, can't find the keys to the Delta 88. I think The Husband hides them from me.

The final answer, and the only option at hand, is the very one I'd been avoiding. I'll have to put him in the bathtub. Upstairs. Moving through the kitchen, I hold the big dog by the collar while spouting open threats of a very cold bath if he dares to shake his muddy self on my stainless steel appliances. We negotiate the stairs, slime down the hall together and finally make it to the bathtub. The good news is that the bath should go a lot easier now that we left a muddy wake along our path to get here.

Befittingly to the topic, this mud is the consistency of melted chocolate, like a Hershey bar with crushed almonds. [gag] Is that an earthworm? And mmmh, so aromatic, but not in a good way.

But oh my, as my beautiful dog emerges from his self-imposed swampiness, he looks at me with those root-beer brown eyes of his. A softer version of eye contact than we shared before in the backyard.  Thanks for using the warm water, Food Lady, says Micron. Can I still have a Good Dog cookie after?

Micron, you big goober, I say. You can have two.

No, I wasn't eating mud. I'm your Good Dog.
Gimme some credit here.
At least I wasn't eating the mud.
*The only reason I know the latin name for rabbit is from the 1972 SciFi classic "Night of the Lepus." See this movie just once and it stays with you forever.  No matter how hard you try to drink the memory away.

**That's a Predator (1987) joke, people.


So after reading this post, my Other Half informs me that not only has the plumbing to the garden hose been repaired, it has been indeed been in working order for quite some time.  Apparently my failure in getting water to successfully expel itself from said hose was a matter of user error.  This shaming accusation is brought to life when he turns the spigot handle and soaks my sandals as I stand there, again with mouth agape.

Huh, I say.  Not that I was thinking myself as the kind of chick who could handle a garden hose with expertise, but I really do know how to turn a spigot on without a Getting Started guide.

I smell a gaslighting here. No, not that kind of gas.  This kind.  Anyway, I think he's messing with me because I threatened to go cruising with the dogs in his Delta 88 convertible without him.

No matter. Ha ha, that was funny, Dear Husband. Anyway, good luck finding your truck keys today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Easy on the eyes

[click to see larger image]

Headshots of littermates Ella and Euka at six months old.  These girls share personality traits and fight like sisters during their play dates. And yet, they differ in body structure. 

Euka remains the petite beauty of the Ohio Four. Ella, Everett and Emma all sport a more robust build than our little girl.  But all are, of course, gorgeous pups.  They can't help it, you know; they were born with it.

Can you see the difference here in the faces of these two girls? Ella has the broader head and snooter, while Euka is composed of more delicate features.

We know good looks really aren't important in their preparations to be service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence.  Being easy on the eyes is just a life bonus for these two.

Wilbur, the bull terrier from obedience class would agree with this.  He trills a love warble for Ella like a love struck teenager.  [sigh] Another star-crossed romance, the poor guy.


Be sure to check out our dog blog post on Going all out Diva style to help us choose some bling for our lovely girl.  Euka has been around me long enough to know not to trust my fashion sense. She's counting on you for this one.

We're tallying up the suggestions and will announce the popular choice on April 21, 2013.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Going all out Diva style

Have a nice day, honey. Make good choices!

I'm going to the grocery, I tell The Husband. Any special requests for dinner tonight?

I allow a moment of silence for deep thought. Naw, he says. Whatever you feel like.

Yes, the freedom of choice!  He has loosed the reins and  I can select whatever tickles my fancy, cuisine-wise. Not that I'm reined in or even need to be loosened, of course. It's a figure of speech, you know. Or sarcasm. Or something like that.

No, that's not my meatloaf, hahahaha. Um, wait a sec . . .

It's also the courtesy dance that we do. I already know what tonight's chow is gonna be. It's Cook's Choice, that's what. But I'm willing to be flexible enough if the man has a hankering for something in particular. We're still talking about dinner, by the way. Really, people.

Some life decisions come easy, right? Like evening meal plans. Meatloaf, the Sequel -or- Let's Go Out?  And yet others take some quiet time to ponder. Accept that job offer in another state -or- Stay safe with what you know? Then we have the choices that fall somewhere in the middle. Do I really need to stop at this next exit -or- can I count on my bladder to not burst like a water balloon before I make it home?  Risky stuff, this decision making.  Aw c'mon, you say, sometimes it's just meatloaf. Not everything is a life changing event. Oh sure, I pretty much agree. Except you've never had my meatloaf, have you?

What's in this anyway? asks The Husband, poking at the quivering gray matter with his fork. Was it anyone we knew?

It's half Meat. I say. And half loaf. Half ketchup, too.  A little mystery is good for keeping that spark in a relationship, they say.

Oh, but we know about the basics of good decision making, don't we? Like how it's a stellar idea to write a grocery list to help stick to a budget and to never go food shopping on an empty stomach, lest you end up with frozen yogurt and corn chips to balance out the week's nutrition. Or the importance of refraining from posting an emotional monologue on Facebook while sipping upon a generous amount of adult beverage. Or writing blog posts, for that matter. Just sayin'.

So just like Cook's Choice nights, I'm not the kind of girl that holds back in making undebated decisions. And I do tend to rely heavily on intuition, which includes a gut feeling of confidence that this is absolutely the right thing to be done. Yeah sure, some people would call that being impulsive. Foolish, even. And [sigh] they'd be right. Because it's true that my intuition spends too much time painting her nails instead of honing street smarts. And by painting her nails, I mean surfing for funny dog videos on the web. Oh, and we know that the otherwise trustworthy gut feel is sometimes merely a dire rumbly in the tummy resulting from Cook's Choice nights.

Here's where you come in

There are some decisions better left to a community of minds, I think. Like this one, for instance. Miss Euka and I could use some style advice from y'all.

WooferWear Woven Gerber Daisies collar
Our Euka finds herself in need of some girly bling in the way of a new collar. The pet store brand collar I bought early on was indeed totally kick-butt with the pink skull & crossbones on a black background. Rather befitting of her Bring it On personality. But sadly, the design has worn off in a very short time.  A disappointing display of shoddy workmanship by this particular outsourced manufacturer, it seems.

I've decided to go all out on quality this time around. And still keeping with a kicky style too. Sure it can be done. And here's how. Fellow CCI puppy raiser, Nancee Wright, sells her handmade dog collars on her Etsy site at WooferWear.  I know this is a good decision this time as purchasing from Etsy vendors supports artisans, small businesses, and as a bonus here at WooferWear, Canine Companions for Independence benefits as well.  Nancee donates a percentage of her sales to CCI.  Ok, it's time to trust that gut feeling.

Colorful Blooms
WooferWear Colorful Blooms collar
The mighty Micron already sports a WooferWear collar in the Celtic Knot design. A couple of photos of the blindingly handsome male model Micron are out on the Dog Bling post from last year.

So help us out, will you?

Take a peek out at the hundred plus designs available at WooferWear and let us know what you think fits Euka's style.

Is it daisies or a woodland animals?  Folk artsy or a southwestern flair?  Ooh, maybe the aptly named Houndstooth pattern?

I pulled a couple of examples from WooferWear's Etsy site here for you, but these are pretty much random screen shots. Don't let these sway you. Go with your gut feel, y'all.

Spirograph in Turquoise
WooferWear Spirograph in Turquoise collar

Drop us a comment with your fashion choice for our diva, Miss Euka.  And hey, if you're a fellow dog blogger, be sure to put a link to your website as well so other folk can see where you're from.

I'll announce the popular choice taken from the comments left on this blog page, as well as the Raising a Super Dog Facebook page, on April 21.

And you know, if anything catches your eye leaving you pondering just how you made it this far in life without this exact collar for your dog, well, tell Nancee that Euka sent ya.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Help it or eat it?

I don't know, says Yaxley.  It's rolling around like it banged its big toe or something. And those noises! I can't tell if the critter is laughing or saying naughty words in Dothraki. What should I do, Food Lady? Do I try to help it or maybe just eat the thing to end the suffering?

Yaxley, my love, I say. You leave it.

A never-before-published photo from the puppy raising archives has Yaxley observing a battery-operated toy in Cracker Barrel's strategically placed gift shop. You know their floor plan, right? It'll be a fifteen minute wait, says the hostess.  Feel free to shop around until your table's ready. 

And the photo above is not a demonstration of how to torment a pup, but instead just another training exercise. We have a novel object that is doing its level best to appear like injured prey, with all the squeaky sounds and twisting about.

And Yaxley held tough, the good boy.  Showing us some nice self-control here, our little yeller feller.  Which reminds me to advise you to not waste any time looking for photos of  the mighty Micron performing this task.  They do not exist for our impulse-control challenged guy.

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