Heavenly Light

They say our loved ones are always around us.  I have had quite a few experiences throughout my life to acknowledge that claim.  After my husband’s passing, I experienced the common phenomena of blinking lights and familiar smells.  There are two experiences, however, that stand out;  My husband was a barber/stylist.  He was obsessed with making sure my hair was always styled just so.  He would go as far as primping and spraying my hair when I removed my motorcycle helmet after a ride.  I guess you could say his motto was “If you don’t look good, I don’t look good.”  It always brought about some good-natured bantering among the Harley group.  After his passing, I often experienced the sensation of someone touching my hair.  It always happened when I was out in public, such as in line at the grocery store, during a meeting at school, etc.  I must admit it freaked me out a bit at first. Once I accepted it as Dan remaining close to me and ensuring that I “looked good” it actually brought a sense of peace to me.  The second experience was on Jellybean’s first birthday.  In case you are a new reader and aren’t aware, Jellybean’s birthdate is the same date as the passing of my husband, April first, albeit twelve years after his death.  I have always felt she was a gift from him to me.  Imagine my surprise as I reviewed the birthday pictures I had taken the morning of her first birthday, to discover a beautiful circle of light surrounding her.  I am in awe of it to this day and believe it was my husband sending his love. 

Several weeks ago I had mentioned to my stepdaughter that it has been a long time since I felt his presence around me.  One evening I snapped a few pictures of Jellybean as she peeked around the corner of the hallway entrance to the living room.  When reviewing the pictures, I noticed a few “specks” on them.  I enlarged the pictures and the realization that I had captured something very special took my breath away.  The “specks” appear to be little balls of light.  Orbs?  Could they be orbs?  It appears to be five of them.  My brother is very ill and his journey back to good health is looking bleaker every day.  My brother absolutely loves Jellybean.  She has been a comfort to him these past few months as she snuggles with him.  It would make sense that Dan and other family members that have passed would choose her to be the messenger that our loved ones are indeed surrounding us with their heavenly light during this time. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

A Whole Lot Nice with a Little Bit of Naughty

It’s that time of year when Jellybean and I begin to evaluate her year in terms of nice and naughty.  Over the last few weeks, Jellybean has been joining me for my elder care sessions with Miss Bernie.  Twice a week she brings her packed lunch, blanket, and a few treats along with her. She snuggles between Miss Bernie and I on the sofa as we enjoy the morning game shows.  Although Miss Bernie does not always remember Jellybean’s name, or that there is a puppy joining us for a few hours, she gets the biggest smile on her face every time she sees her.  Jellybean seems to sense that Miss Bernie prefers calm over chaos, so she is content to lay her head on Miss Bernie’s leg and nap right along with her.  It is the sweetest thing to see Miss Bernie reach down and give Jellybean a little pet now and then.  As Miss Bernie adjusts to her new home, Jellybean and I are hoping we can continue our relationship with occasional visits.  I would say Jellybean definitely scores a “nice” on this one.

 I can also tell you that she has been extra nice with her visits to York College of PA to support the Women’s basketball team.  The season has just begun and Jellybean has already captured the hearts of the team and the cheerleaders, not to mention the spectators.  She proudly dons her York College of PA t-shirt and KPETS (Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services) bandana and prepares to be loved on and to give some love as well.  While not everyone is the recipient of one of her sloppy kiss, she is certainly the recipient of lots of belly rubs and ear scratches, which makes for a whole lot of smiles.  Score!  Good girl Jellybean. 

Now, on the other hand, Jellybean has had some recent behaviors that would be considered naughty.  Her continued obsession with shredding tissues from the bathroom waste basket should be a concern for her as far as Santa Paws goes.  I can’t imagine having me walk into a room covered with shredded tissue is okay with him.  Then there is her penchant for coffee table surfing.  It really is not a good look Jellybean.  However, her latest mischievous behavior has earned her the nickname of “Houdini.”  It appears that Jellybean has figured out that if you use your paw and hit at the latch on your crate at daycare, the door will eventually open.  Although Jellybean is involved in many activities and interactions throughout the day, there are parts of the day when the puppies are crated.  It is my understanding that Jellybean noticed some of the other pups were heading home and she took it upon herself to be ready when her mama came to pick her up.  She let herself out of her crate not once, but twice.  Now, please don’t worry, there are many safeguards in place.  Jellybean was by no means in any danger.  As a matter of fact, it is said that she strutted down the hallway like the little diva she is.  So… what is Santa Paws going to think when he sees her crate now has a carabiner clip on it? Naughty, naughty Jellybean. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Hello world!  It’s Jellybean here, puppy extraordinaire.  I find myself reflecting on this year’s Halloween.  Where was all the excitement, the mystery, the creative inspiration that usually gets rolling as soon as October arrives with its’ autumn vibes?  Something was definitely off this year.  There were no searches on Pinterest and no googling DIY puppy costumes.  There was just a peek into my infamous closet for a hot minute and out came the Clarabelle Cow costume.  I know I look as cute as can be dressed as a pudgy spotted cow, but admittedly my ego took a bit of a hit knowing we were recycling one of my previous costumes.  But then Mama has been a bit preoccupied lately.  Diagnosed with Leukemia in June and breast cancer in August, Mama certainly has had other things on her mind.  In reality, I had just as much fun.  My friends at doggy daycare thought I was amazing as I “moooooved” my way through the front door.  The trick or treaters that came by were quite amused as I rolled around in the leaves with my pudgy belly and pink udders on full view.  Our dinner guests couldn’t get enough of my cuteness.  So all in all, I guess having to wear something twice wasn’t a bad thing.  Actually, now that I am reflecting, it may be the responsible thing to do.  After all, my closet is jam-packed with a pretty amazing wardrobe.  There are many puppies out there that don’t have any sweaters, jackets, snowsuits, pajamas or even costumes.  So here’s to being one lucky pup and to ‘moooooving” and “groooooving” in a more responsible manner. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Jellybean, Hannah and the Little Pink Cup

Retired for a number of years, I still get to feed that kindergarten teacher hiding somewhere inside of me who is not yet ready to hang up all things kindergarten quite yet.  I am blessed to babysit Jay (almost 5) and his little sister three days a week.  At a year and a half, little Hannah already demonstrates such a love for animals.  She adores her kitties, Junie and Primmy and pretty much any dog or cat that crosses her path.  And boy, oh boy, does she love my little Jellybean!  It seems like Jellybean is always on her mind. She sings the “Jellybean Song” while riding in the car, playing with her toys, and lying in her crib.  Her parents, brother, aunt, uncle, cousins, and all sets of grandparents have heard it so often that they sing along too.  As a matter of fact, her soon to be five year old brother helped to develop the little ditty when he was about three. In case you’re wondering, it goes like this; Jellybean, Jellybean. Cutest little puppy that I’ve ever seen. Jellybean, Jellybean I love you!

As much as Hannah adores Jellybean, it has not always been smooth sailing between the two of them. As an infant, Hannah had a penchant for grabbing things.  Unfortunately that sometimes meant Jellybean’s ears, tail, fur and that long silky tail of hers were a target for those chubby little hands.  Because of that I have always been super aware of Jellybean’s proximity to Hannah.  I’ve watched one too many Judge Judy episodes to take the chance of Jellybean nipping, or heaven forbid, biting her. The last few months, however, Hannah has grown to understand the difference between petting and grabbing, and while Jellybean appreciates the newer, gentler touch, she has learned that Hannah is a snacker.  You’ve heard of two peas in a pod?  These two are totally food driven.  It didn’t take Jellybean long to figure out that the little pink cup Hannah often carries around is filled with scrumptious little treats;  baby goldfish, mini pretzels, cheese puffs, yogurt bites and the like.  At the first sight of Hannah walking from the kitchen to the living room or play area with her little pink snack cup, Jellybean sits up and watches ever so closely.  Slowly she saddles up to Hannah, who is absolutely thrilled to have her Jellybean in such close proximity.  It is the cutest dynamic to watch.  Hannah eats a goldfish, or whatever the snack of the morning just happens to be, then reaches in her cup and gently hands one to the ready and waiting little pup.  She continues with the “one for me, one for you” approach until the snack cup is empty.  The giggles and smiles that result from this interaction, just melt my heart.  Just two foodies doing their thing!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms

As I was zipping around the house today dusting, vacuuming, catching up on laundry and all those weekend chores that could no longer be ignored, I happened to catch Jellybean’s sad expression from her perch on the bed in the guest room.  My poor, miserable little puppy:  No toys to play with. 

No bones to chew on. 

Not a single ball to be found. 

No delectable treats hiding in her snuffle mat. 

Jellybean was reduced to a sad, little puppy wondering where the bright spotlight of attention to which she was accustomed had gone.  Suddenly a lyric from an old children’s song popped into my head.  “Nobody likes me.  Everybody hates me.  Guess I’ll go eat worms.”  No worries my little sweet pea.  Mama is just about done.  No worms for you today. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Unconditional Love Revisited

Sometimes life just knocks the wind out of you and it requires a little time to step back and look at life from a new perspective.  That sums up the last five or six weeks for me.  A routine blood test revealed that I have developed a form of Leukemia.  As if that wasn’t scary enough, several weeks later my routine mammogram showed a “highly suspicious” mass and two enlarged lymph nodes.  Both require biopsies, which I nervously await this week. 

For the last several years I have routinely posted a blog every two weeks.  This little hiccup in my overall health assessment has gotten me a bit off track.  I don’t seem to be able to come up with “new” material.  Is that called a Blog Block?  As I sat at my laptop this evening, I started looking over the many blogs I have written over the years.  At the very beginning I wrote a blog titled “Unconditional Love.”  The words still ring true, even more so considering my current state of mind.  I thought it appropriate to dust it off and bring it out to share once again.  There is nothing better than starting the day off with the unconditional love offered up by my sweet Jellybean. 

When Charles M. Schulz said “Happiness is a warm puppy,” he was talking directly to me.  I look back in wonder at how much joy this rambunctious and precocious little puppy has brought into my life.  Upon waking in the morning, Jellybean stretches and peers out from under a mound of tousled black and white fur.  Then, giving a good shake, she pounces on me and covers my face with licks and puppy kisses.  Tail wagging, she runs circles around the pillows to show she is excited to begin her day.  As we head downstairs an invisible tether connects us and ensures Jellybean is never more than a step behind her Momma.   A morning walk, breakfast of kibble and chicken, her daily grooming ritual, always concluding with a colorful bow, and Jellybean is off and running.  Her days are filled with walks about the neighborhood, bones, toys, and rendezvous with puppy friends, visitations to fulfill her therapy dog obligations, naps, and a plethora of tricks, which are often rewarded with tasty treats.  As if on cue, at 8:30 PM, Jellybean is ready to settle down and snuggle on the couch.  The unconditional love emanating from those big dark eyes during these quiet times never fails to warm my soul and remind me how grateful I am she came into my life. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

No Way!

For many people, the end of May signals holiday celebrations, the realization that long-awaited vacations are just around the corner, and a time to breathe in the warm air and bask in the summer sun.  For me however, it signals Jellybean’s annual trip to the vet. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that Jellybean, like her Mama, struggles with a bit of extra padding around the middle. Every year, I wait in utter despair as she steps on the scales only to see that her chubba has found a little more wubba.  This year was no different.  For weeks prior to our appointment, I kept reminding her to move more and lay off the cheese.  The morning of her appointment arrived and we gingerly walked into the office.  After a friendly hello, the nurse asked Jellybean to step on the scale.  She looked at me and I gave her the let’s get this over with head nod.  Jellybean lightly stepped on the scale, and I may be imagining things, but I think her right paw was not touching the surface – just floating above it, taking just a tiny bit of pressure off the scale.  The number popped up.  Jellybean looked at me.  I looked at the nurse.  The nurse looked at Jellybean and I said, “That can’t be right.  Can we try again?”  The second time around gave us the exact same weight.  I quickly reached down and picked up my pudgy pup.  I certainly didn’t want to risk the scale moving upward even an ounce.  As we sat waiting for the doctor to come in, I scolded myself for not pulling her paperwork from the previous year to check her weight.  Just then the Doctor entered the room waving her arms, shouting, “Yay, Jellybean lost a pound this year!  That’s amazing! Good girl Jellybean!” I’m thinking to myself, no way.  She looks chubbier than ever.  But in the end the doctor was very pleased and even complimented Jellybean on brushing her teeth every day.  Apparently my 8-year old has the teeth of a 1-year old, and in the doggy dental world that is pretty amazing.  We left the office with smiles on our faces after the unexpected good news and a prescription for a new food, more suited to the metabolism of a “middle-aged” mixed breed small dog.  Here’s to you Jellybean; may your snacks be little and your walks be long!  We got this!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

The Sploot & Scoot

I recently discovered there is a term for something that Jellybean does quite frequently.  Apparently when a dog, or even a cat, lies down and stretches out its hind legs flat behind them it is known as splooting.  Who knew there was such a cool word for this relaxing position? Some dogs do the one leg sploot and others engage both hind legs. I have noticed Jellybean sploots quite frequently and she does what I would consider a full body sploot. This very chill pup extends her front and back legs out as far as possible.  She practically doubles in size!  I am not a yoga person, but I have heard of the downward dog pose.  Could this be the flat Stanley of yoga? Apparently this position is very comfortable and has the benefit of helping your furry friend soak up the coolness of the floor or the grass.

As you know, Jellybean always has to one up her furry friends. She has taken that four-legged sploot and put it in action.  It is absolutely hilarious to see her outstretched body scooting across the floor or grass.  Her head is held high and a slight smile appears on her face.  Ahhh….the ecstacy!  I think sometimes Jellybean prefers the sploot and scoot to walking.  I can’t tell you how many times neighbors shake their heads at her or people drive by with the biggest smiles on their faces as I am holding the leash while my carefree puppy just sploots and scoots her way down the street.  Have you noticed your pet engaging in this relaxing activity? 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Canine Kindness

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

No not just for some, but for everyone…

This song, written by David Hal and Burt Bacharach and sung by Jackie DeShannon way back in 1965 came to mind after a recent conversation with one of Jellybean’s caregivers at her doggy daycare.  She has mentioned numerous times that Jellybean has taken on the role of greeter and mentor when a new pup joins the class.  Apparently, Jellybean is very keen on picking up the vibes of a nervous first timer.  Miranda noted that my sweet little Bean is the first to greet them, and make sure they have a playmate and a friend throughout the day.  I find that so heartwarming.  In the craziness of today’s world a little kindness can go a long way.  I’m so proud that my Jellybean is the quintessential canine – loving, friendly, kind, and intuitive.

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith Children’s Author