The Move

the move

Moving day has finally arrived.  Just how much stuff will my little diva dog, aka “Jellybean”, need to pack you ask?  You may be sorry you asked, as you know Jellybean is not your ordinary four-legged pal.  Well, here goes…….

  • 49 assorted doggie coats, jackets, sweaters, hoodies
  • 4 holiday dresses
  • 2 ball caps
  • 1 knitted winter hat
  • 1 bomber winter hat
  • 1 pair of doggie snow boots
  • 6 pair of doggie pajamas
  • 54 assorted stuffed, squeaky, and chewy toys
  • 11 bones of various sizes
  • 15 balls: tennis, talking, rope, fill with a treat
  • 5 antlers for chewing
  • 3 doggie beds
  • 7 doggie blankets
  • 2 lamb Pillow Pets
  • 14 leashes with matching collars
  • Backpack filled with items needed for KPets’ visits
    • Pink water bottle
    • Water bowl
    • 2 KPets bandanas
    • Folder with shot records and member information
    • KPets certificate
    • ID badge for handler (that would be me)
    • Treats
    • Small towel
    • Poop bags
    • 3 four-foot leashes to use with martingale collar
  • 3 extra-large bath towels
  • 1 dozen colorful washcloths
  • Doggie shampoo
  • Doggie conditioner
  • Metal comb
  • Brush
  • Grooming spray
  • Waterless bath spray
  • Bag of mini rubber bands
  • 2 dozen assorted hair bows/barrettes
  • Doggie toothbrush
  • Doggie toothpaste
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Extra large crate
  • Bag of large crunchy bones
  • 4 jars of miscellaneous treats
  • 1 bag of dental treats
  • 1 bag of dog food
  • 4 dog water/food bowls
  • Minnie Mouse lunch box
  • Snoopy Lunch box
  • Vera Bradley lunch bag (What can I say?  A girl’s got to look good walking into doggy daycare)
  • Doggie car seat w/harness
  • Book collection:
    • Naughty Little Puppy
    • The Perfect Hiding Place
    • Sloppy Kisses
  • A doggie plaque for the front garden
  • A wall plaque:  Jellybean Queen
  • Framed pictures of the little Diva herself

Wow!  That’s a lot of stuff for a puppy that doesn’t even weigh 20 pounds!  Jellybean is living the good life for sure!  It looks like her Mama might be one of those crazy dog ladies.  And that’s okay, because this is one well-loved little puppy that spreads joy and sloppy kisses wherever she goes!  Into the wagon goes Jellybean with her belongings following close behind.  How exciting it will be to see Jellybean adjust to her new home, exploring all the nooks and crannies and finding her new special sunning spot.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

the move - 2

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The Great Canine Badge Caper

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This weekend Jellybean and I had the opportunity to participate in an event for the local Girl Scout chapter.  We were there as part of KPets, the Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy organization.  This is an organization whose motto is “Touching lives, warming hearts through human and animal interaction.”  At any given event you may see dogs of varying breeds and size, cats, mini horses, rabbits, etc. The five dogs that were in attendance during our 2-hour session were met with enthusiasm as the 200 plus young ladies oohed and ahhed over these four-legged fur babies.  They petted and stroked their fur, shared stories about their own pets, and giggled and smiled at the apparel and accessories chosen for this specific event.  It was refreshing to hear so many of the girls sharing their accomplishments as they spoke about the various badges adorning their sashes.  These young, achievement oriented girls represented their organization well, and are enthusiastic leaders in the making.  On the drive home, I glanced at my tired little puppy and started wondering what sort of badges she would earn in the dog world.  After some serious contemplation, I actually came up with a few:

COMPANIONSHIP BADGE – Jellybean has brought so much light into my world.  She earns this badge for romping into my life and being my rambunctious, fun-loving side kick.

LOYALTY BADGE  – I could not ask for a more loyal four-legged friend.  Jellybean is constantly by my side.  This badge is awarded for her unwavering loyalty.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE BADGE  – Jellybean asks for nothing in return, yet gives so much!  She earns this badge for her big heart and sloppy kisses.

NAPPER BADGE – She earns this badge for leaving no spot unturned to find the very best place to nap.

COLLECTOR BADGE – Jellybean is a collector of many things; toys, sticks, pinecones, treats.  She earns this badge for proudly prancing down the street with her treasure of choice.

CONCEALER BADGE  – Jellybean is a certified concealer.  She earns this particular badge for spending much time and consideration as to the perfect hiding place for her special treats.

BEST DRESSED BADGE – Jellybean is quite the fashion diva with her vast wardrobe and accessories.  Jellybean earns this badge for accommodating me, her over the top pet parent, when it comes to having just the right outfit for any occasion.

TAIL CHASING BADGE – Jellybean earns this badge for her expertise at spinning at a high rate of speed as she pursues her elusive fluffy white tail.

MOON WALK BADGE  – Jellybean has been awarded this badge for having mastered backing up lickety split from behind the couch when she hears the rattle of a snack bag.

NAUGHTY BADGE – This was Jellybean’s very first badge, earned for running away with things that did not belong to her.  She was very quickly deemed a naughty little puppy.

A Klatch of the Four-Legged Kind

 

A klatch is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a gathering characterized usually by informal conversation.”  Therefore, a coffee klatch would involve drinking coffee and chatting.  A sewing klatch would involve sewing and chatting.  It would make sense then when Jellybean meets up with her neighborhood friends it would be considered a wag, sniff and play klatch.  It never gets old watching Jellybean and her four-legged friends meet and greet each other.  It can be compared to a dance, the steps are that choreographed.  Jellybean spots a friend in the distance.  She immediately stops and watches, as she determines exactly which friend she is about to encounter.  Slowly her tail begins to wag, just a bit, to acknowledge she has spotted this four-legged pal.  She takes a few steps forward, then stops, not wanting to appear too “easy.”  Slowly she moves forward as her neighborhood friend approaches from the other direction.  As we get closer, Jellybean can no longer contain herself, and stands on her hind legs, pawing the air as if saying, “Hi there, Sweetie Pie.”  “Hey, it’s me, Gordy!”  “What’s up, Buddy?”  “I see you Sport!”  “Here I come!”  Suddenly, not unlike a nitro funny car, employing all 8000 horsepower when the light goes green, she takes off!  I am by no means a small person, and how this 18 pound dog is able to literally propel me forward is just plain crazy!  We hurry down the street, Jellybean’s tail wagging as she pants and whimpers in her excitement.  Me, I’m just hanging on for dear life! Finally, the klatch commences.  The intense excitement tones down a bit, as these neighborhood friends begin the dance.  Noses twitch and sniff, as tails wag energetically.  They begin to circle each other and sniff all the appropriate details.  After the ritualistic greeting has finished, puppy play time is initiated.  This is where I make the comparison to a coffee klatch.  Their get together is based on friendship and commonalities; things like sniffing, wagging, playing and barking.  They interact with each other; psyching each other out, front legs down on the ground, tushies and tails wagging high in the air, until one pounces.  Soon the real play begins and they race around each other, moving in and out of the leashes with expertise.  Energy spent, they are then content to sit alongside each other while the two-legged variety reach down to pet and praise them.  Just like that the klatch is adjourned.  As if they suddenly remember why they came outside in the first place, these furry friends are now ready to run, army crawl, or play catch your tail as you spin down the street.  At least that’s the direction a walk with Jellybean can take.  Of course, those are stories for another day.  That being said, here’s to a good walk and a good four-legged friend!

Tails of Comfort

The last week has been quite an emotional roller coaster for me; as the elderly lady I have cared for since my retirement four years ago passed on to join her loved ones in heaven.  Through the months, weeks, and days leading up to her passing, I have now come to better understand the process of dying.  The hospice nurses were a timely gift and surely they were angels sent straight from heaven to help the family and caregivers understand what was happening with this dear lady.  I am honored and forever grateful that I was the caregiver with her on the day she received visits from the loved ones who had gone before her.  Throughout the day, the look of wonderment and awe on her face touched me beyond words.  With each visit, her eyes opened wide and she gasped as if shocked to see a departed loved one standing before her.  The smile that spread across her face reflected the joy, wonder, and love she had for that individual.  As she smiled, she reached out, her eyes following them across the room, only to be met with another gasp and smile of recognition as yet another loved one appeared before her.  This went on throughout the day.  I took her hand and asked who was visiting with her that could make her smile so.  Each time, she faintly squeezed my hand, smiled and nodded her head to acknowledge I knew friends and family were among us.  In the afternoon, through my tears I was able to share with her that I too had a visitor.  Upon returning from getting a fresh glass of water for her, I found a feather next to her bedside seat.  I knew immediately that this was a gift from my dear husband, letting me know that he was with me on this day, helping me to accept what was happening and to share in her joy of preparing for her next life.  This is an experience that has surely changed me.

I titled this blog “Tails of Comfort” because of the family dogs that held vigil throughout the process.  Casey, a border collie, was very protective of Mrs. R, even before her life began to fade.  However, throughout her last days, he held vigil at the bottom of her hospital bed, at the very spot where her recliner had provided a clear view of her favorite television shows. Casey kept watch, his head on his front paws, eyes searching for movement, and ears at attention listening for faint sounds coming from underneath the pastel quilt.  Mulligan, on the other hand, only a year old and as spunky and playful as a Golden Retriever puppy can be, searched for every opportunity to occupy the little hassock that had been positioned beside her bed.  In the event a family member or caregiver left her watching post for a moment, Mulligan was quick to claim the spot as his own.  He sat and watched in wonder as this great lady, with a big heart and mischievous personality, now quiet and still, awaited her journey to loved ones that had gone on before her.  Every once in a while he nudged at the quilt, letting her know that he was nearby.

I have always been a bit of a coward when it comes to death and dying, but one thing I know for sure is that I have been profoundly affected by this experience.  It has made me rethink some of the work that my puppy, Jellybean, and I do as members of a therapy dog organization.  I have tended to shy away from elder care, hospital and hospice work.  Perhaps it is time to reconsider, letting go of my own insecurities, and allow my puppy the opportunity to spread joy and love as only a four-legged pup can do.  This would be a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady who touched my life and others in so many ways.

The Napping Dog

Just how many naps does a three-year-old puppy require?  I think I assumed that as she got a little older, Jellybean wouldn’t nap as much.  However, I have found that is not the case.  Now, let’s be real, we do get up early.  4:30 – 5:00 AM has become the norm for us to roll out of bed and get our day started.  My shower, our thirty minute walk, breakfast for the two of us, Jellybean’s morning primping; brushing of fur and teeth, colorful bow in place, eye drops for allergies, and a morning treat, pretty much lead up to her first nap of the day.  I am heading out the door at 6:00 AM and she is heading to the sofa or her crate to find a cozy spot for napping.  I have noticed when I have the opportunity to spend the day with her, she generally takes about six or eight naps at various times throughout the day.  How does she do it?  She has quite a few favorite places to curl up and relax during the day. Oh, to be so carefree!  Maybe we should take a hint, after all, it’s a dog’s life.  Do you find your fur baby also seeks out many opportunities throughout the day to curl up, stretch out, put all four paws in the air, roll over, and just plain relaxxxxx?

Sloppy Kisses

My third children’s picture book, Sloppy Kisses, captures Jellybean’s journey to becoming a therapy dog.  Although not an easy one, due to Jellybean’s playful and precocious nature, I believe it was written in the stars for her to become a therapy dog. Is it a coincidence that her birthdate just happens to be the same date as my husband’s passing?  I think not.  I truly believe that Dan played a role in sending her to me to help fill the empty abyss of what used to be a heart so content and overflowing with love.  She brings much joy to me with her unconditional love and playful nature.  My husband was a talented, self-employed hair stylist with a big personality, sparkling blue eyes, and a laugh so big that it echoed through the house from his tiny shop.  He loved people!  He loved his customers, and loved making them feel good as he expertly snipped and cut until each style was perfect.  He also loved playing the role of therapist, counselor, psychologist and the like, as together, he and his customers solved the world’s problems.  However, one day a week was set aside to visit the local elder care homes.  Here, he served as barber for the elderly gentlemen who lived in the facilities.  He called them his “Mr. Potato Heads”, as he removed hearing aids, glasses, and other accoutrements before beginning his duties as barber.  After stimulating conversations with some, and quiet conversations with others, he would put them all back together before sending them on their way.  He always came home with such great stories.  The respect he had for these gentlemen was unwavering.  What better ways to honor my husband, than to have Jellybean, my puppy sent straight from heaven, become a therapy dog and provide that same joy to others!

My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has done a wonderful job of capturing Jellybean’s playfulness and sometimes diva-like behaviors throughout the training process.  The story begins with Jellybean attending a Canine Good Citizen class at our local Petco.  At the onset it is quite clear that Jellybean is not quite on program, unlike the rest of her four-legged classmates.  The illustrations in the story depict Jellybean romping through class while the other pups dutifully follow the directions given by the trainer, who, by the way, assured me time and time again that Jellybean would master the skills needed to earn her good citizen award.  I was not so sure, but we kept at it.  Finally, after taking the class for the third time, Jellybean showed the world that she was indeed a Canine Good Citizen!  We moved forward by connecting with a local organization, KPets, that provides therapy services through interactions with pets.  Jellybean successfully mastered the various requirements to become a registered therapy dog.  Woohoo!!!  At this point, my schedule does not allow us to do as much work as I would like, but we do what we can.  We visit local colleges to provide stress relief before finals.  We support York College of Pennsylvania girls’ basketball team by attending all the home games and sharing the love with the many basketball fans.  As my schedule allows, we also attend events at local parks, department stores and elder care facilities.  We also visit schools and libraries so that children can read to the dogs, cats, mini horses, or whatever menagerie of animals happens to be there on that particular day.

Sloppy Kisses is a simple story, geared for the very young crowd, that demonstrates the power of practice and working hard for what you want to achieve.  Sloppy Kisses is available on Amazon.  Simply follow the link:  http://amzn.to/2B78X0Z

The Well-Equipped Dog

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My puppy and I had the opportunity to vacation in Myrtle Beach this summer.  When packing the car, it occurred to me that for such a small dog, Jellybean sure required a lot of “stuff.”  I rationalized that it was a three-week stay after all, so of course she was going to need a plethora of accoutrements.

This past week we were scheduled to travel to Rockwood School District in Rockwood, PA for an author visit, coincidentally arranged because of a chance meeting at the pool in Myrtle Beach.  It was meant to be; the school librarian and newly published children’s author eager to share her stories.  Since it was nearly a three-hour drive, I determined it would be best to arrive the night prior to the event.  That way, Jellybean and I would be well-rested for our big day at Rockwood Elementary School.  I happened to mention to an acquaintance what a process it was packing not only for me, but also for Jellybean.  I wanted to be sure that she would be comfortable in a different setting.  She looked at me with a raised eyebrow, and said “What are you talking about? When we take our dog with us, we take food, water and bowls for the food and water.”  I thought to myself, “Oh my, what a deprived puppy.”  My little diva requires so much more to ensure that she enjoys the same quality of life no matter where we are.  I guess the phrase “home away from home” would apply here.

Later that day I paged through my notebook to find my list of things to pack for Jellybean.  It included the following:

  • Back pack
  • Food (bagged in individual meals in a snoopy lunch box no less)
  • Food bowl
  • Bottled water
  • Water bowl
  • Insulated water bottle
  • Treats
  • Bone
  • Several toys
  • Doggie blanket
  • Doggie bed
  • Doggie PJ’s
  • Current vaccination record – never leave home without it
  • 2 of each book: Naughty Little Puppy, The Perfect Hiding Place, Sloppy Kisses, signing pen, paw stamp & stamp pad, bags, rack cards & business cards (you just never know when you might run into someone interested in a book)
  • Waste bags
  • Brush
  • Hair bows and bands
  • Doggy toothbrush & doggy toothpaste
  • Paw wet wipes
  • Eye drops (for seasonal allergies)
  • 2 or 3 leashes/collars in colors to match hair bows (one 4 foot leash & Martingale collar to use when visiting)
  • Doggy ball cap/sun visor
  • Hoodie, sweater, or doggy raincoat (if weather report indicates they will be needed)

Reading through the list, I had to chuckle.  Obsessive?  Over the top?  Bordering on crazy?  You got it!  Who knew that owning this adorable little fur ball would result in me becoming one of “those.”  Go ahead, call it what it is.  I’m a crazy dog lady and proud of it!

 

 

The Perfect Hiding Place

Dogs in general love to hide things.  It is a natural canine instinct that has not been lost from their days of roaming in packs.  If a dog came upon something to eat, it most likely had to compete with the other dogs in the pack.  In order to keep the tasty morsel safe, the dog would bury it near the den, thus saving it for later.  That being said, my puppy, Jellybean, by no means needs to fight to lay claim to her food or treats.  She is regularly fed breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Treat jars are placed strategically around the house, in the event she turns on the charm and performs one of her many tricks.  A quick “roll over” is bound to earn her one of her favorite cheese flavored o’s.  A “please and a thank you” (right paw, then left) most certainly is worthy of a few bits of doggie trail mix.  During the evening when I am enjoying my favorite TV programs, she has learned that sitting precariously close to the edge of the couch, straight up on her haunches; feverishly pawing the air will result in the sharing of my snack of popcorn and goldfish crackers.  However, it is the once daily crunchy bone treat that is worthy of hiding and savoring at a later time.  Unlike most dogs, that hide their treats under things, behind things, or actually bury them, Jellybean hides her treat in full view.  She spends much time considering the perfect “hiding” place, running up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms, whimpering in excitement as her big black eyes scan the endless possibilities. Finally, a spot is chosen.  She carefully nudges the tasty morsel until it has been positioned perfectly on top of a sofa cushion, in front of the soft green chair, under the dining room table to name just a few.  Then the waiting game begins.  She lies in wait nearby, watching as life goes on all around her,  making sure that no one disturbs her precious prize of the day.
She stares down the bone relentlessly, until suddenly, the temptation can no longer be denied.  She feverishly pounces on it until nothing is left but a few tiny crumbs. Even those are quickly savored.  Jellybean then prances off to find a toy or a quiet, sunny spot to nap, as she knows tomorrow is another day filled with opportunities to find the perfect hiding place.

Jellybean’s daily ritual with her treat inspired me to write my second children’s picture book titled The Perfect Hiding Place.  The perfect title, don’t you think?  It is also the perfect read for the young crowd.  The Perfect Hiding Place is available at Amazon.com

 

 

 

Naughty Little Puppy

Who needs a 130 sheet cross-cut shredder when you have a spunky little puppy that can take care of all your shredding needs?  This white and black model shreds paper of all types; copy paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tissues (both clean and otherwise), magazines, cardboard, and yes, even the paper label around plastic water bottles.  Leave a tissue behind on the couch?  Leave the newspaper on the chair while you refill your tea?  Walk away from your Ladies Home Journal magazine?  Forget to put your water bottle in the recycling bin?  Never fear, Jellybean the shredder is here!  Moving faster than the community shred truck, Jellybean hones in on the treasure of the moment. Using her front paws to keep the object secure, Jellybean, begins pulling and tearing at her prize.  Pull, tear, spit!  Pull, tear, spit! Pull, tear, spit!  She continues until the object has been obliterated and strewn all over the floor.  Satisfied that her work has been completed to the best of her ability, Jellybean stands proudly amid the mess.

Not only is this rambunctious puppy a shredder, she is also a taker.  She takes things that do not belong to her; shoes, socks, gloves to name a few items.  Her tendency to stake claim on my personal items developed very early in life.  It amused me so much that it actually became the inspiration for my first children’s picture book, titled – are you ready?  Naughty Little Puppy.  It’s not a very original title, but quite a true representation of Jellybean, my precocious, yet lovable, albeit naughty little fur ball.  The repetitive text and short, structured sentences, make it the perfect book for the 3-5 year old crowd.  I should mention that my illustrator, Shana Morrow, did an incredible job of capturing Jellybean’s personality through her artistic rendering of Jellybean.  You can see me for a signed copy or purchase a copy at Amazon.com .