Spring Has Sprung

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Spring has sprung – or almost.  Technically I am a day early.  That being said, Jellybean and I welcome the warm sunshine and the longer, brighter days.  Our walks are becoming a bit more leisurely.  The cold, bitter air that stung my face and chilled Jellybean’s little paws has become gentler and kinder to my skin and Jellybean’s sensitive foot pads.   Jellybean once again has her nose to the ground following the scents of squirrels that recently scampered along our path.  The furry little rabbits that zig-zagged their way across the grass left a trail of bunny “delights” for Jellybean to savor.  Finches, blue jays and robins sing their sweet songs as we pass underneath the trees in our community.  Jellybean lifts her chin and looks up into the trees trying to determine the source of the beautiful songs.  The honking of geese as they return from their winter flight stops Jellybean in mid step.  She is very curious as to the strange honking sounds that seemingly come out of the sky.  Her stance is absolutely beautiful, with three feet solidly on the ground and one drawn up with paw in perfect point formation; her big curious eyes look skyward.  She intently watches the honking geese as they make their way to a nearby stream.  I must admit that as spring begins to make its’ appearance, I am a bit sad about one thing.  It’s time to put away Jellybean’s ridiculously large wardrobe.  Into her closet go Jellybean’s hoodies, jackets, snow suits, snow boots, sweaters, and pajamas. I will miss watching my little fashionista strut around the neighborhood in her fashionable garb. But alas, as much as I enjoy showing off her extensive wardrobe, I am quite cognizant of the temperature changes that are forthcoming and recognize she needs to go all natural in order to be comfortable.  But all is not lost.  She still has her hat collection, ball caps to be exact;  there is her pink floral cap, a pink cap with white polka dots, and a beautiful lilac print cap to name a few.  What little puppy doesn’t need a cap complete with a visor to keep the sun out of her eyes while tooling around in the car?  I breathe a sigh of relief as I realize that although her closet will be virtually untouched until next fall, she will still be that loveable, fashion forward little pup that proudly prances her way through life.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

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A Home Well-Loved

I recently hosted the Winterfest Potluck Dinner in my condo community.  Having just bought the home this past June, I was not only honored to host, but also thrilled to show off my farmhouse/country décor and have an opportunity to share fellowship and a plethora of tasty dishes with my new neighbors.  Jellybean was in heaven!  She received so much attention throughout the evening.  By the time the festivities wound down and the house was still and quiet, Jellybean was ready to snuggle and catch up on her missed naps.

The next day I sent a text to a very dear friend, noting that the Winterfest gathering was a huge success.  Just so you know, her mother is the former owner of the condo and also served as host for this particular celebration many times throughout her twenty some years in this condo.  My friend was amazed at the timing of my message.  She had just returned her mother to her new home, a local assisted living residence.  It seems that on the ride home, her mother asked, “Does Bev still like living in my house?  Does her little puppy like it too?”  My friend was amazed at the clarity at which her mother spoke of both Jellybean and me, especially with the severity of her memory loss.  She assured her mother that indeed we do love it here.

I was really touched by this.  I have known Del and her family for years.  When I was a classroom teacher, I babysat her grandchildren every summer and also many a Saturday night.  Now that I am retired I babysit her great-grandson three days a week.  Del’s daughter was also my hair stylist for over thirty years.  Fast forward to this summer and I became the owner of the home that Del lived in and loved for over twenty years.  As you can see, the connections to this family run very deep.

As the week went by, I kept thinking that I should do something for Del so that she can see how much Jellybean and I enjoy living in her home.  I decided to create a photo book for her.  I spent an afternoon looking through pictures on my laptop and gathered the ones I thought represented how comfortable we are here.  I began with how infatuated Jellybean is with the cows that appear at the fence outside our sunroom window.  Jellybean spends hours on the sofa looking out the window.  It is one of her favorite spots.  I am so lucky to have a sunroom that is a total wall of windows.  It faces the field on a neighboring farm.  The cows come down and hang out by the fence.  Several ground hogs play in the brush.  Birds in a variety of colors frolic in the thick bushes, squirrels perform high wire acts in the tree right outside the windows.  We’ve even had a stray cat reach its little paws up and peer in the window.  Needless to say, Jellybean did not tolerate that very well and looked at it more as of an invasion than nature at play.  I have many pictures of Jellybean lounging here or sitting at attention, depending on the activity outside our windows.

I also included pictures of my big farm table, where my entire family can be seated together for meal time, my late husband’s barber chair – a cherished piece of furniture – which found its’ home in a corner spot of the sunroom, and pictures of baby Jay and Jellybean as they went from getting to know each other to becoming best buds.  I often refer to them as Peanut Butter and Jelly, as you don’t see one without the other.  I also included a picture of the infamous Jellybean’s closet, which now houses Jellybean’s ridiculous collection of coats, sweaters, jackets, hoodies, snowsuits, pajamas, etc.  I’ll bet Del could not have imagined that the closet system she had installed for organizational purposes would be so perfect for my spoiled little puppy.  I’m sure Del will get a chuckle out of the pictures of Jellybean frolicking in the yard as the snow gently falls.  The pictures of her snow-covered face are absolutely adorable and speak to the high level of comfort and complete abandon she feels when playing here.

So, when Del inquires if Jellybean and I still like living in her house, I respond with a profound YES!!  YES!!  YES!!  We love everything about it.  Most of all we love that the house came already filled with love.  Del left some of that behind for us.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to make a home for Jellybean and me in a home that permeates the love bestowed upon it by its’ former owner.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

My Little Snow Bunny

Have you ever read the children’s book by Robert Munch titled Thomas’ Snow Suit? The adorable little boy is reluctantly bundled up to the max in preparation of having an afternoon romp in the snow.  His snowy day outfit is complete with snow jacket, snow pants, boots, scarf, hat, and mittens.  Every time I bundle Jellybean up for a romp in the snow or a potty walk, I am thankful that the people who design dog clothing are quite in tune with the needs and habits of our four-legged friends.  A quick squat and it is business as usual, then back to romping and playing in the snow, no worries about the outfit.

Aside from allowing Jellybean to potty as needed, her new snowsuit is really quite ingenious. It allows her to dive in head first, bulldozing the snow-filled yard as efficiently as any Troy Bilt Storm 2410 model without getting snow and ice balls packed on her legs and in her pits.  Her face, on the other hand, is a different story.  She looks up and it is literally packed with snow, eyes barely visible. She gives a shake and back she goes for another round.  She then rolls on her back making a line of snow angels.  As her back digs into the snow, the resulting imprints resemble a line of giant hotdogs.  Suddenly her tail takes her by surprise.  She begins to spin circles, snow flying around her as she chases this mysterious, silky creature.  When the chase is complete, the yard looks like someone has been here spinning donuts on a snow mobile.

Did I mention that Jellybean also wears snow boots?  Maybe I should say Jellybean has snow boots.  It is quite the effort to get them on her.  But for goodness sake, with the recent bone-chilling sub-zero temps, what is a poor little puppy to do?  So we try.  If she is walking, just taking care of business, they are quite effective.  They protect her feet from the cold and salt-covered sidewalks and roadways.  However, when she is bull-dozing, rolling, and zipping around in circles, I can count on at least two of her red and black Muttluks flying off her feet sailing high in the air.  It must be the kindergarten teacher in me that never went away, but I find myself counting throughout her snowy day follies to make sure all four paw coverings are accounted for.  “One, two, three, four.  Yep still on.”  A few minutes later, “One, two, three, four.  Oh, good.  We’re on a roll.”  Once again, “One, two,  wait a minute.  Where are numbers three and four?  Is that your boot all the way across the yard hanging on the snow-covered bush? Oh, I see number four over by the driveway.  My goodness, Jellybean, you really know how to have fun in the snow!”  That’s my girl; my snow-loving, rambunctious, silly little puppy!

Halloween Quandary

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Another Halloween is upon us, which means another quandary for me.  What costume will Jellybean wear this year?  In previous years she has been dressed as Minnie Mouse as well as a cute little lady bug.  Both costumes were darn cute if I must say so myself.  And only as Jellybean can, she sashays and struts around showing off her tutu, wings, or whatever the current ensemble might be.  She is quite incredibly the most accommodating dog ever.  I say accommodating because the costumes are really all about me.  It’s not like she marks her calendar each year and starts shopping for outfits.  I get the biggest kick out of seeing people smile when they see her all decked out.   So…back to my quandary for this year.  We will be participating in two Trunk or Treat events, a costume contest at doggie daycare, as well as Trick or Treat night in our neighborhood.  Obviously, she needs a costume that makes her look super cute.  It is well-known that I tend to overthink things that pertain to my precious little pup.  Reading over my notes for this particular blog, even I have to admit that the time and effort I put into the hunt for her annual Halloween costume is a bit over the top.  It goes something like this:

  1. Spend hours on Pinterest looking for ideas to spark your creative side.
  2. Narrow the search to three or four possibilities that stand out.
  3. Bingo! This year Jellybean will be a clown!
  4. Head back to Pinterest and peruse a few more clown costumes.
  5. Next, go to Amazon and begin a search for a toddler-sized tutu.
  6. Once the tutu has been chosen, begin a search for toddler-sized suspenders.
  7. Submit the order.
  8. Once the items have arrived, place them in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  9. Now head to the local craft store and search for a brightly colored toddler-sized Tee shirt, 3T to be exact.
  • Purchase the Tee and place it in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  1. Take advantage of someone who is an expert on the sewing machine. In this case it would be my mother.
  2. Discuss the possibility of making a clown collar out of colorful fabric.
  3. Take a trip together to the local fabric store to find just the right fabric that will coordinate with the tutu.
  4. Purchase the fabric.
  5. Send it home with your favorite seamstress, who by the way would do anything for her grand dog.
  6. While waiting for the clown collar to be sewn, go back to Pinterest and start looking for ideas to decorate the car for Trunk or Treat with a circus/clown theme.
  7. After making some notes as to the items needed, head to your local party store and purchase said items. Once again, place the items in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  8. Don’t forget to purchase the candy and treats needed to hand out at the various events.
  9. At this point, Jellybean’s closet is a bit too full, so store the candy and treats in a large bin in the garage.

20.Pick up the collar when finished.

  1. Go home, retrieve all items from Jellybean’s closet and have a dress rehearsal.
  2. Looking at this adorable get-up, you realize the next decision is to decide what to do with her hair.
  3. Knowing that this particular puppy will not wear a hat, unless she is riding in the car, determine that a mix of colorful curly ribbon barrettes will be a good option for clown hair. At least these will stay in place for the duration of the event.
  4. One last dress rehearsal is in order before the events, this one with the car fully decorated.
  5. Be sure to take several pictures. These are needed of course for bragging opportunities.
  6. Place all items back in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  7. You are now ready for Halloween 2018!

Whew!  That was a lot of work.  But you’ve got to admit that Jellybean has got to be the cutest Halloween clown ever!  Well….at least this over the top pet parent thinks so!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Jellybean’s New Closet

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You all know by now that Jellybean is one very lucky and spoiled little puppy.  You also know that her mama is a bit over the top when it comes to ensuring that she has everything she “needs.”  I wrote about Jellybean’s closet in a previous blog, in which I introduced you to her many outfits and accoutrements.   I’ve also written about the items this little diva “requires” when we travel, right down to her little doggy pajamas.  Today, I am excited to tell you about Jellybean’s new and improved closet.  This is a closet that will be the envy of every well-dressed pup.

In June, I purchased a beautiful, spacious condo.  We both love it!  I have lots of room for my “stuff” and Jellybean has room to run, chase her tail, hide her treats and all the things that rambunctious little puppies do.  I am so fortunate that the lovely lady who previously owned the condo was particular about her living space and made sure there was ample storage throughout.  Call me one lucky lady in that every closet in the house is custom, each with compartments for hanging clothes and organizing shoes and various accoutrements.

This brings us to the hall closet, heretofore known as Jellybean’s closet.  What a beauty it is!  It is the perfect space for storing and organizing her amazing wardrobe.  There is a compartment for her sweaters, a compartment for winter jackets, one for fleece doggy jackets made with love by her “Grandma” and also a compartment for T-shirts (holiday and event related).  We are not done yet!  There is also a combination compartment for her pajamas, holiday wear, hoodies and raincoats.  The organization doesn’t stop at her wardrobe.  There is storage for her lunch boxes, because every well-dressed puppy carries her own lunch box into doggy daycare, right?  Well….this well-dressed puppy proudly prances in the door to daycare, lunchbox clenched tightly between her pearly white teeth with her tail held high.  She actually has the choice of several.  I leave it up to her.   Treats, dog food, and bowls have a special place.  Grooming necessities, such as brushes, rubber bands, hair bows, washcloths, doggie toothbrush and toothpaste, towels and puppy shampoo are readily available.  Leashes and collars are neatly stored on hangers.  There is even a special spot for the book bag we use when participating in therapy dog visits with our KPets group.

Over the top?  Perhaps, but when I signed on to be Jellybean’s mama, I promised that I would love her and care for her.  If that means I get to spoil her too, I’m all over it.  What’s that you say?  A box from Amazon Prime was just left at the door?  What could it be?  Yippee!!  Her colorful tutu has arrived! Shhhhhh… Jellybean is going to be a clown for Halloween this year.  I can’t wait to see how this year’s costume comes together.  But for now, this rainbow-colored tutu is going….you guessed it….in Jellybean’s closet!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Bang! Kaboom! Sizzle! Skedaddle!

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What do you do when your puppy is terrified of loud noises and here comes the Fourth of July holiday?  This year is a particularly rough one with the holiday falling on Wednesday.  Heaven knows that Jellybean is ready with her patriotic dress and coordinating bow.  Communities and families are making it a week-long celebration with picnics, parties and fireworks shows.  Jellybean and I are approaching week two at our new home and loving it.  Did I mention, however, that we are directly up the hill from a beautiful park that serves the community with programs, concerts, recreational facilities and yes, gigantic firework shows?  Enter a carefree puppy that generally prances through life, ears flapping as she bounds from room to room, silky white tail held high. That is until she hears the loud pop and sizzle of a fire cracker set off in the local neighborhood.  Suddenly this carefree little puppy loses all sense of security.  Her ears droop low.  Her tail drags on the ground; she begins panting and looks at me with those dark, soulful eyes for help.  It is almost like she is saying, “Okay, Momma, you are my protector, do your job!”   The problem is, she will not allow me to do my job.  She is inconsolable and does not want me to pet, hold, or even speak in a reassuring voice to her.  She just wants to get to a safe place where she can hide until the fear no longer controls her.  That is usually under a piece of furniture; the sofa, the overstuffed chair, or a bed.

Medication is not my first choice to deal with Jellybean’s anxiety, and I have avoided it for the first four years of her life.  But let’s face it, there is going to be a genuine, full blown fireworks show right down the street. This is nothing to make light of.  She will be terrified and it is my responsibility to see that she is safe and comfortable during the event.  The timing for Jellybean’s yearly vet appointment provided the perfect opportunity for me to speak to her veterinarian regarding my concern.  The vet agreed that this event was much more intense than a neighbor popping off a few random fireworks.  We walked away from the appointment with a prescription of anxiety medication that should be given about an hour prior to the big light show.

The evening of the concert, to be followed by a gigantic fireworks show arrived.  We had a great day with lots of family and friends helping to celebrate our new home.  As evening approached, Jellybean and I headed downstairs to the family room.  I turned the television a bit louder than usual and the dehumidifier hummed in the background.  I gave the medication as directed, and put Jellybean in her ducky pajamas, so that the tightness of the material could help to sooth her. We made ourselves comfortable on the sofa and began to watch television in the family room.  Fifteen minutes later, Jellybean was sound asleep.  I heard the first boom and held my breath.  Jellybean sat up and looked around.  Then, quick as a wink, she snuggled into the blanket beside me on the couch and fell back to sleep.  The fireworks continued with big kabooms, sizzles, cracks, and bangs.  Jellybean remained as snug as a bug in a rug for the evening.  Whew!  All my anxiety about this night for naught!  Just to be on the safe side, I waited an extra half hour before rousing her to take a potty break and head to bed for the night.  I made sure to let her know what a good girl she had been as I fastened the clasp on her pretty pink harness..  I opened the door and we stepped out onto the brick pavement, and KABOOM!!!  A neighbor, one street over, set off a perfectly legal, albeit very loud firework just as we walked out the door.  I turned to look at Jellybean, as her ears drooped low.  Her tail was tight against her bottom and its silky white hair spread out on the ground.  She began panting and looked at me with those dark, soulful eyes for help.  Slinking close to the ground she turned and headed for the door.  I opened it and she quickly scaled the brick step.  I reached down to undo the clasp on her harness and she was gone in a flash.  Up the stairs and under the bed, the darkness once again providing the safe haven she needed at that moment.  Well, we almost made it through the night before the bang, kaboom, sizzle, skedaddle!  At 3:30 AM I hear her scratching and pawing at the side of my bed.  Finally, hours later, the anxiety had eased and she was ready to snuggle by my side for a good night’s sleep.  The morning arrived quickly and she was raring to go, carefree and rambunctious as always.  That is until the next bang, kaboom, sizzle, and skedaddle!

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

The Bully

No amount of preparation for our move could have prepared me for the unexpected event of last Monday.  I had worked so hard to ensure that Jellybean would successfully transition to our new home with such things as frequent visits prior to the move and bringing blankets and beds into the new house without being laundered so that familiar smells would follow.  Meeting and greeting new neighbors, of both the two and four-legged variety, was also high on our list.  All went well with that, until a meet and greet went bad.  It started quite normally.  Body language determined that both dogs were interested in meeting.  Tails were wagging and they were speaking to each other as dogs do.  Remember, Jellybean is a therapy dog and she attends doggie day care on a regular basis.  She seemed very comfortable with this dog.  If not, she would have circled back to stand behind my legs.  They sniffed and circled, tails still wagging, when suddenly the other dog latched on to her ear with his teeth. It all happened so fast, I still cannot determine when the other dog’s disposition changed.  There was lots of yipping from Jellybean as the owner pulled his dog back and I picked up Jellybean and held her close to my frantically beating heart.  An evening in the animal ER and four stitches later, with a report to the local police and Jellybean is doing just fine.  She adores the attention she is receiving from our neighbors, as they call her “our hero” for reporting the dog who bit her.  It appears that this particular dog is a bully and has gone after others before.  While Jellybean basks in all the glorious attention, I privately wish someone had reported it previously so that she would not have had to go through a sedation, sutures, pain pills and two weeks of antibiotics.  Cheeseburgers and ice cream are the ticket, however,  for hiding the medication, and she is eating it up, literally!  Whatever it takes, right? Jellybean, ever the happy go-lucky pup, doesn’t seem to mind wearing her cone.  My personal thought is that because she is so used to wearing sweaters, jackets, pajamas, hats, etc. she simply thinks it is just another piece of apparel to add to her ever growing closet.  Here’s to our new home and neighborhood, and perhaps a higher level of awareness in the meet and greet department!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

The Move

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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

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.