The Picnic Crasher

After a seemingly long stretch of hot, humid weather, we were finally blessed with a beautiful day filled with sunshine, blue skies and low humidity.  What a wonderful day to enjoy the outdoors.  After a morning filled with water play out on the deck, the two-year-old little boy I babysit “helped” me set up a tent on the dry side of the deck.  We then proceeded to pack our lunch and head back out on the deck to our colorful tent and enjoy our summer picnic.

As you know, picnics and ants just naturally go together. But did you know there are several things you can do so that these pesky little creatures don’t invade your space?  Ants do not like vinegar.  They also do not like lemon, mint,  or rosemary.  Simply lightly rub the item of choice quickly over your tablecloth to create an instant and effective ant repellant.  Ants are also not a fan of water.  Consider placing the feet of your picnic table in large containers of water.  Trust me the ants are not going to cross the moat.  Now they do love watermelon and sweet treats.  Another effective tactic to keep ants away from your picnic is to place your leftover watermelon rind or several small bowls of sugar water a short distance from where you have staked your claim for your picnic. They will march right on over to partake of the sweet treats not even giving you and your picnic deliciousness a second thought.

Here is the conundrum.  It’s not ants that have invaded this particular picnic, but rather a cute, fluffy, somewhat precocious little puppy named Jellybean. She simply invited herself to the festivities.   First of all, she heard there was going to be cheese.  She loves cheese.  Then she heard there was going to be some chicken stix for the two-year-old, and finally she heard the rumor that there was also going to be some peanut butter.  Oh boy, she is a big fan of peanut butter!  There were no scents, moats or sweet distracters that were going to keep her away.  As my little buddy and I sat inside the tent, Jellybean peeked in the door.  Then she walked around the other side of the tent and peeked in the window, only to be overcome by the smell of chicken stix and a cheese stick.  Let the crying, pouting and begging begin!  Oh my goodness, Jellybean, there is no need to put on such a show.  Of course you are welcome to our picnic.  What a happy little puppy she was as I reached into the picnic bag and came out with her “licky mat” which had been lightly spread with peanut butter.  What a wonderful little device that is.  She happily lapped up her peanut butter as Jay and I finished our picnic lunch.  After everyone’s belly was full, Jellybean and Jay both had the same idea for cleaning either the peanut butter or ketchup off their respective faces.  Jellybean went first as Jay curiously watched to see what she was doing.  She trotted over to the small pool on the other side of the deck and quickly stuck her face in the water.  After a few shakes, Jellybean lifted her head out of the water.  It was wet but peanut butter free.  You could almost see the wheels turning as Jay quickly ran across the deck, bent down and he too put his face in the water Jellybean style.  What a pair!  Love these two to pieces!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

A New Perspective

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For weeks I have been obsessed with Jellybean’s grooming needs.  In my previous blog I noted that finally an appointment with Miss Angie had been scheduled.  Oh what a wag festival it was!  Jellybean was overjoyed to see her all-time favorite groomer.  She could hardly contain herself as she zig-zagged her way through the aisles at our local Petco and made her way to the grooming station.  Miss Angie met us with an enthusiastic hello.  Jellybean was beside herself as she covered Miss Angie with long-awaited sloppy kisses.  When I picked her up an hour and a half later, she looked so tiny.  Thirteen weeks, after all, is a long time for a puppy with a thick coat like Jellybean’s to go without a haircut.  She actually was a bit shy the rest of the day.  I think perhaps she felt a little naked after losing a couple pounds of hair, so I went to her closet and pulled out a special t-shirt for her to wear for the rest of the evening and through the night.  It seemed to give her a bit of security.

The next morning I removed the shirt and we went for our usual morning walk. What a difference in the way she approached it!  Jellybean was quite energetic and a bit full of herself as she ran, rolled, crawled and sniffed her way down the hill to the park.  It was quite obvious that she just felt better overall.  Almost a week later, Jellybean has surely reunited with her spunky self.  Being weighed down by the extra mass of hair was really cramming her style.  Now, when I call her to go for a walk, she rips and races around the house, grabbing her favorite toys from her basket, trying to decide just which one she should take along on the walk.  Should she take ground hog?  No, what about hedgehog?  Wait a minute, what about rabbit?  Finally she chooses a friend and out the door we go. Prior to the grooming Jellybean was becoming a bit lackadaisical when it was time for a walk, just sort of plodding along.  I guess you could say Jellybean has a new perspective, feeling lighter and freer to be herself.  Now, if only her Mama could get a haircut.  It’s been fourteen weeks for me.  Oh my!

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Miss Angie Here I Come!

What is going on here?  My mama is doing some kind of weird happy dance or something.  She was just reaching for that ridiculous grooming spray and brush again when suddenly her phone lit up.  She reached for it and read the name out loud.  She said, “It’s Petco!”  Hey, wait a minute! I know that name.  Petco, it’s where the pets go.  It’s where I go to see Miss Angie for a bath and a haircut.  My mama could hardly contain herself as she ran for her pen and made a note in her planner.  After some very excited chit chat she turned to me and said, “Guess what!  That was Miss Angie!  You are going to see her for a bath and a haircut on Saturday at 1:00.  Woohoo!”   Let me tell you, there was some celebrating happening at my house!

Finally, we can get back to normal around here.  Twelve weeks of my mama chasing me around for extra brushing, spritzing me with that grooming spray, snipping out little knots of fur that won’t brush out, and extra baths with triple conditioner.  Then there was the day she cut about five pounds of hair off the top of my head.  And let’s not forget the great nail clipping caper that I told you all about the last time we sent out our blog. I’m all about a girl looking her best, but geeze Louise, it has been quite the adventure as we traveled down this Covid 19 road.

So, Miss Angie, get ready because here I come!  I am ready for my special spa treatment.  I have lots of sloppy kisses saved up for you.  It’s been twelve weeks after all!  Miss Angie, I am on my way!  Oh, and don’t forget my bag of treats… and my toothbrush… and my special shampoo… but how about we leave the nails for the next time.  Oh my, do I have a story to tell you!

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Jellybean and the Great Nail Clipping Caper

Jellybean - covid 19 hair

Rona, Rona go away.                                                                                                                    Please do not come any other day!                                                                                            Little Jellybean, little Jellybean, Little Jellybean wants to play… without tripping over her overgrown nails and furry coat that is.

Oh Covid-19 how you have messed with our lives!  Our new normal is not something we could have ever imagined.  It has wrapped its ugly viral self around the very core of everything we as humans hold dear; family, friends, and freedom to name a few. The impact has now extended to our four-legged friends as well.  As pet owners, we have taken an oath to care for our fur babies and ensure their overall health and wellbeing is a priority.  And then came the Corona virus and the groomers closed.  Everyone is doing their best to care for their menagerie of pets to the best of their abilities, but some things are better left for the groomer.  After two months, such is the case for my little Jellybean.

Keeping after her ever growing, long, thick, somewhat bushy hair coiffed to my liking has been quite a challenge.  We work on it every day, several times a day, well…actually all day long.  Her last grooming appointment was February 23rd.  You see, I am a bit over the top with her grooming. Without exception, she sees Miss Angie every four weeks for the spa treatment, which includes bath, haircut, nail trim, and a few extra niceties.  That being said, she has missed her March appointment, her April appointment, and I am pretty certain her May appointment will not see the light of day.  I continue to work every day to keep my little “Chia Pet” as I now call her, as comfortable and well-groomed as possible.

Ah, but I digress, as it is not her overgrown mass of fur that is the only problem the Corona Virus has brought upon us.  Her nails seem to be growing at warp speed.  Jellybean has never been one to enjoy having her nails clipped.  When she was a puppy, I played with her feet all the time, which was supposed to help her feel comfortable with this regular part of grooming.  Deep down inside I am rather certain she met with an uncomfortable situation a time or two before we found Miss Angie.  Jellybean absolutely loves her groomer!  All I have to do is mention her name and Jellybean jumps up, does a happy dance and heads to the door for some major puppy love from the best groomer around.  Although Miss Angie says it is not Jellybean’s favorite part of grooming, she is able to keep her nails trimmed perfectly.  Seven weeks into our shelter at home situation, I called Jellybean’s vet for help.  They said they would be happy to see her and trim her nails for me.  Now I was the one doing the happy dance, as I had noticed my little Bean was occasionally limping if we took an extra, long walk.  Now, let the nail clipping caper begin!

April 1 – 9:30 appointment for nail trim

April 6 – 8:30 appointment for nail trim

April 16 – 9:00 appointment for nail trim

What the heck, you ask?  Did I mention that Jellybean has anxiety?  You only see it once in a while; fireworks season, thunder storms, or riding in the car when it is raining, and she has a bit of separation anxiety as well.  Jellybean does have medication that she takes for extreme situations.  Did I mention my puppy does not enjoy going to the Vet for any reason?  Her yearly appointments are always a bit tedious even though they make such a big fuss over her.  Enter Covid-19 and pass-through pet service at the veterinarian’s office.  I thought I was preparing JB well for her nail appointment by giving her one of the anxiety pills the morning of her appointment.  The “pass through” did not go well, but I powered through it and returned to my car to wait for the call that they were finished and sending her my way.

Thirty minutes later, the nurse called to say they were sending Jellybean back to me.  Her nails were not done, as “Jellybean was acting like a Jumping Bean” and they were unable to perform the procedure without causing further anxiety or harm.  In addition, it was noted that the prescription was two years old and she had plumped up a bit, so it was in fact ineffective.  The nurse noted they were updating the meds to better align with her current weight.  They released Jellybean to her Mama saying we should reschedule for the following week.  Once home, I removed the medication from the bag and placed it on a shelf in her closet.  I then pulled a brochure out of the bag and my heart sank.  It was a brochure for a supplement for dogs with behavior disorders.  Oh my, Jellybean!  Anxious, chubby, and poorly behaved!

The following week Jellybean and I returned for round two.  I gave the two medications as directed, making sure to purchase Velveeta cheese, as it serves as the most effective method for disguising pills. We arrived for our appointment in a timely manner.  Once again, the pass through did not go well.  I sat in my car holding my breath.  The nurse called after only ten minutes to say that the nails on her back paws were done.  They were unable to do the nails in the front and they were sending her out free of charge.  It was noted I would be receiving a call from the doctor.

After some small talk with the doctor, being sure to remind her that the Jellybean she sees is not the norm, I plugged my new book and reminded her of Jellybean’s work as a therapy dog.  Of course she knows all of this and was excited for the new book and very sympathetic to Jellybean’s situation.  She was also upfront with letting me know that she had one more thing she wanted to try before we had to have a conversation about twilight sleep.

The morning of our third appointment arrived.  I pulled out the Velveeta and administered the first medication, then, an hour later gave the next two pills.  An hour later we were headed back for our third visit for a nail trim.  Jellybean nonchalantly did a half-hearted attempt to exit the pass-through procedure.  I was feeling hopeful. Five minutes later an elated nurse called to say that Jellybean’s nails were trimmed and she was ready to go.  What a relief that was!

I’m not saying that medicating my puppy was my first choice for this situation, but when I tell you her anxiety was through the roof, I know it was the best thing I could do in this circumstance.  The most frustrating thing of all is that I do not understand how pass through service was not considered for pet grooming all along.  I am relieved to hear that there are individuals working hard with the powers to be to get this situation remedied.  We owe it to our fur babies that offer up unconditional love every day.  That being said, I’ve told Jellybean to cross her paws that she is able to see Miss Angie before her June 4th yearly appointment so that we don’t have to add nails to the list of vaccinations and exams that are scheduled for that day.  We would much rather have a pampering session with Miss Angie.

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

Social Distancing Jellybean Style

The world has been turned upside down by the Corona Virus.  Life as we know it may be forever changed.  As Jellybean and I try to navigate the new normal, our lives look so different; gatherings with family and friends on hold with communication now being through a variety of technology, casual neighborhood gatherings now very rare and always at the appropriate social distance, afternoons frolicking with four-legged friends at doggy daycare when I was scheduled to sub at a local daycare simply not needed, trips out for necessities now come armed with hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and the oh so essential mask.  These are crazy and frightening times for sure, but we have to keep our chin up and stay positive.  We have to look for the little things around us that bring smiles to our faces and that familiar warmth to our hearts.  For me, that is my precious little, albeit extra fluffy, Jellybean.

That being said, Jellybean and I now have a new game we play called Are You Social Distancing? She has always been one to hide her treats and then lurk in the vicinity watching to make sure it is safe.  You may remember that my second picture book, The Perfect Hiding Place, covers Jellybean’s quirky behavior on this topic.  But lately she has begun hiding herself, well at least partially hiding herself, for no apparent reason.  That is, unless, the reason is because we are quarantined here together, and she is tired of playing twenty questions throughout the day.  “Hi there Jellybean!”  “What are you up to Jellybean?”  “What are you doing Pumpkin?”  “Would you like me to brush you… again?”  “What’s up, JB?”  “Hey Beaner, want to go for another walk?”  “Jellybean, where are you?”  “JB, are you social distancing again?  Why am I here and you are there?”  Hmmmm.  I may be driving my puppy to social distance with my constant attention and chatter.  What’s that you say, time to back off a little bit?  I think not.  You can find me on the floor, directly across from Jellybean peering under the bed, chair, sofa, etc. to catch those big, black, expressive eyes and have a face-to-face conversation on her level. Hey, wait a minute, did she just roll her eyes at me?

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

The Shaggy Dog versus A Chia Pet

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For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I am pretty particular when it comes to taking care of my sweet little Jellybean.  As a Shichon, her coat is rather complicated.  She has a very thick undercoat and a silky top coat.  It makes for some great petting.  When we are out on our therapy visits or promoting our children’s books, Jellybean is quite often complimented on her soft, thick coat.  It has been said she “feels like a cotton ball”, “is like a pillow”, “is squishy” and one of my favorites, “she feels like a marshmallow.”

Well, let me tell you, that cotton bally, squishy, marshmallowy coat doesn’t get that way by itself.  I am very deliberate in her daily grooming, which includes coat, teeth, eyes and feet.  I brush her AT LEAST once a day, making sure there are no tangles in that dense coat of hers.  I also pay attention to eyes, ears, teeth and feet daily, but today’s blog is about her coat so we will stay focused there.  Jellybean sees her groomer, Miss Angie, once a month.  Every four weeks Jellybean is treated to the spa package; a trim, bath, extra conditioning, nail trim, ear exam/trim and tooth brushing.  Well, that is until the Corona Virus hit and everything was shut down.  She is now four weeks overdue for her grooming appointment.  Oh my goodness.  Talk about a bad hair day.  She surely does look like the infamous shaggy dog.  I am now brushing her three times a day just to keep the tangles at bay.  Let’s not even talk about the nails. That is surely a story for another day.

The other day, I looked at Jellybean romping across the floor with her favorite hedgehog toy, and I thought to myself, “She kind of reminds me of a Chia Pet.”  Just how do you care for a Chia Pet, a real live, four-legged Chia Pet?  Let me break it down for you.  FIRST, everything comes to a grinding halt due to COVID-19.  NEXT, you go along as though nothing happened, grooming as usual.  AFTER THAT, you realize this pandemic is not going to end anytime soon, so you add some water in the form of a bath, trying to keep the coat clean, silky, and tangle free.  OF COURSE, you will need to up the daily brushing to two or three sessions.  CONTINUE brushing, watering and be sure to add in some time to run and play out in the sunshine.  Wait a minute, I think all this brushing, watering, and sunning is making her hair grow faster.  FINALLY, as I hold her on my lap, I determine all that junk in her trunk is not from snacking, she is carrying a least an extra pound or two of hair.  According to the directions, once a Chia Pet gets a little “leggy” as they say, you are supposed to remove the old growth.  Oh Miss Angie how we miss you!  It is my hope that as we move through these unchartered waters of this pandemic, those in charge will realize that our pets have grooming needs that are essential to their health and well-being and we can once again be reunited with our dear Miss Angie.  Until then, I can be found standing with a doggy brush in my pocket ready to take down any tangle that dare try to make a home in Jellybean’s over-abundant fur coat.

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

Pillow Talk

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I regularly DVR a few of my favorite TV shows.  Jellybean and I had already settled in for a quiet Monday evening on the sofa.  I was perusing my options when I happened to glance over at her.  Just moments before, she had been seated on top of the pillows and was leisurely looking out the window.  Mind you, she has been watching for Mr. Groundhog to reappear ever since we saw him pop his furry little head out of his hole several Saturday’s ago.  Of course, she has also been intrigued by the deer that randomly show up in our back yard and in the farmer’s field on the other side of the fence.  To my surprise she was no longer seated on top of the pillows, but rather inside.  Somehow she had managed to perfectly sequester herself in the center of three sofa pillows.  It certainly made me chuckle, but it also made me think of everything I have been hearing on the news lately.  Here was Jellybean, my precocious furry friend, practicing her own special version of social-distancing.

Our world as we know it has certainly been turned upside down by this new fast-moving enemy, the Corona Virus.  Jellybean and I would like to wish everyone well.  Stay healthy and safe.  Above all, it is our hope that you take this gift of time while our world has slowed down a bit, to reconnect with those you love.  For good measure, we are sending some virtual sloppy kisses your way: “Slurp!  Lick!  Slurp!”

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Paw Patrol

As I continue with renovations around the condo, I have to be mindful of the work that is being done and how it affects my rambunctious little puppy.  This last round of work involved installing new wallboard and painting – lots of painting.  Not the best situation for a nosy little puppy that likes to be where the action is.  Thank goodness Aunt Mary came to the rescue by suggesting a sleepover at her house.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  My contractor could work without interruption downstairs and I could get some much needed computer work done upstairs.  Always one to send Jellybean off on an adventure with a fully loaded backpack, I made sure she had food, treats, toys, potty bags, brush, two choices of collars (Martingale and harness), sweater, thunder shirt and her love bug pajamas.  I gave her a pass on the toothbrush, as she prefers her Mama to be the one scrubbing those pearly whites.  Her Aunt Mary has a set of bowls, several puppy blankets and her Mickey Mouse bed on hand so we didn’t have to worry about those things.

Off we went to Aunt Mary’s house.  On the way I made sure to reinforce that she was having a sleepover with Aunt Mary as I had to go to “work.”  That has always been a key word that she seems to connect to me leaving her behind and she is okay with that.  She was happy to see everyone when we arrived and spent lots of time sharing her most wonderful sloppy kisses.  She was not overly anxious when it was time for me to leave, so at least I wasn’t feeling too guilty.  Of course I suffered from the usual Jellybean withdrawal throughout the day.  It is just plain weird when she is not in the house.  However, it sure was a productive day for me on the computer.  My sister kept me updated throughout the day, sending me random pictures.  As the evening progressed, the realization came to Jellybean that perhaps her Mama was working some overtime.  And so the “paw patrol” ritual began.  She insisted on sitting at a chair by the window so she could be on watch.  She sat there throughout the evening, then, returned to her post in the morning.  My sister sent me picture after picture of Jellybean poised on the edge of a dining room chair, stoically watching for a white car to pull in the driveway.  Around dinner time, her Uncle Dave packed her up and brought her home to me.  What a happy reunion that was!  I have heard it said that a home without a dog is just a house.  The truth be told, just a day and a half without my sweet little Jellybean was unbearable.  She brings so much energy and joy to our home! If you haven’t figured it out already, I just adore my wiggly, little ball of fur!  Here’s to our four-legged friends!  Thank you for your unconditional love!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

 

Jellybean’s Closet Is Live!

jelybeanscloset-BSS-front

Attention all dog lovers!

Attention all dog lovers who dress their fur babies in the latest four-legged fashions.

Jellybean’s Closet, my fourth picture book about my precocious little pup is now live on Amazon!

Jellybean is a little dog…with a BIG closet.

She has outfits for all kinds of weather.

One snowy Friday morning, Jellybean looked in her closet.

“Hmm, what to wear, what to wear?”

“I see a snowsuit that’s perfect for me!”

And so it goes.  Jellybean romps through the days of the week and seasons of the year making sure to choose just the right outfit.  This was a story that just had to be written.  Those who have been following me for a while know that Jellybean…errr…her Mama, is obsessed with doggie apparel.  Our hall closet is a doggie’s fashion dream come true…errr…once again; it may be her Mama’s dream come true.  Fortunately Jellybean is very accommodating and proudly struts around the neighborhood wearing the latest sweater, hoodie, jacket, pajamas, t-shirt, snowsuit…well, I think you get the idea.

This is the perfect book for the young crowd, as it reinforces the days of the week, seasons of the year, and weather-related clothing choices.  My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has outdone herself this time.  The detailed and brightly colored illustrations have brought my simple little story to life.  I can’t thank her enough! Demi Stevens, my publisher extraordinaire, oh how blessed I am to be able to work with you.  Can you believe it?  Book number four!!  It could never happened happened without your support and belief in me.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my book order from Amazon.  Jellybean will certainly have lots of pawtographing to do for friends and family who have already requested copies of the book.  Then of course there are the school visits. We promised our local elementary schools we would return to share Jellybean’s Closet, when it became available.  Oh dear, just what will Jellybean wear for all those school visits? I guess it’s time for me to go.  I’ve got shopping to do.  Spring is just around the corner!

Please click on the links below to check out Jellybean’s Closet, as well as our other stories.

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author