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!

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Rabbit Delights

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Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling.  The sound of sleigh bells rang through the house as Jellybean’s nose nudged the antique bells that hang from an old leather strap on the front door knob.  I paused as I pulled a plate from the dishwasher.  “Ok, Jellybean, I’ll be right there.”  Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling.  “I said I was coming my precious little fur ball.”  Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling.  “Ok, ok, I’m coming!  Aye, yai, yai!”  After choosing a colorful winter snow suit for Jellybean to wear on her walk, she dutifully stretched her neck and allowed me to slip it over her head.  Next she handed me a paw and pushed it through the first sleeve opening, then repeated the action with her other front paw, the her hind paws.  Always the willing fashionista, Jellybean stood quietly as I pulled the snow suit over her back, making sure it looked perfect.  I then reached down and hooked Jellybean’s leash to her collar and out the front door we went.  Jellybean stood on the brick step and sniffed deeply.  I am always in awe at what a pretty dog she is.  Naturally I choose puppy outfits that compliment her white silky hair and deep, dark eyes.  I try to make her such a little girly, girl.  Much to my chagrin, it hasn’t happened yet.  Jellybean’s posture clearly showed she smelled something that was pleasing to her.  Her body was stiff, her long silky tail was up, and her head was cocked to the side.  Her nose quivered as she frantically sniffed the air.  Without warning, she leapt off the step and into the patch of grass by the front door.  Jellybean sniffed again and then buried her nose deep down in the cold, wet grass.  Her tail gave a little wag, and she scooped some unseen object out of the grass, turned her head away from me, gave it a chew and down the hatch it went.  She moved to the left and repeated her actions.  “Jellybean, no thank you.  Leave it.”  Her concentration was such that she gave no evidence of hearing me, so I gave her leash a little pull.  “No thank you Jellybean. Leave it.”  This caused her to pull even harder on the leash as she dived in to retrieve another tasty gem.  “Really, Jellybean?  It’s not like you haven’t eaten yet today.   Why on earth do you need to eat rabbit poop?  I can’t imagine it is that good.  If nothing else, it seems to me it would be a bit dry.”  Ignoring my barrage of questions, Jellybean pulled hard against the leash and stretched as far as she could to retrieve another round nugget. “Jellybean, remember the Vet said she would prefer that you not snack on rabbit poop.  There are so many other better options….carrots, green beans, actual dog treats.”

Last June, when Jellybean had her yearly physical, her Vet had asked me if Jellybean ate rabbit droppings.  I responded that unfortunately it was one of her favorite delicacies.  I asked her how she knew that, and she shared the fecal test showed evidence of a parasite that is specific to rabbit droppings.  Fortunately it is not harmful to dogs, although she would prefer Jellybean found some healthier alternatives for snacking.  Still it remains an issue.  It doesn’t help that our neighborhood is polluted with rabbits and Jellybean’s short little legs ensure that she walks with her nose glued to the ground.  All instincts kick in when we near an area in which rabbits have left evidence of their frolic and play.  While this is not an everyday occurrence, it happens often enough that it worries me a bit.  Jellybean usually follows commands pretty well, and follows a “no thank you” or “leave it” quite readily, unless some of those delectable round nuggets are nearby.

It turns out that rabbit poop is actually loaded with various nutrients.  It is high in fiber, digestive enzymes and a natural source of vitamins from the B family.  It may be that this tendency comes from natural instinct developed long before dogs were domesticated, and it was a natural practice for them to ensure their diets were nutritionally balanced.  Because rabbits are not carnivores, and get their nourishment from plants and grains, any diseases they may develop are not transferrable to dogs through their droppings.  Just like chocolate and cheese for humans, moderation is the key.  Who knew?  Does anyone else have a pup that thinks rabbit poop is the best thing since milk bones?

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

My Wild Child

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Another rainy Saturday, but Jellybean had a fun-filled day despite the dreary weather.  She had an appointment with Miss Angie, the groomer, in the morning.  She absolutely loves her!  Then, in the early afternoon, we had a basketball game at a local college with many of her therapy dog friends.  Since she missed at least four of her naps due to her busy schedule, she came home and slept the rest of the afternoon away.

Around dinner time, the skies began to clear and a gentle wind began to blow.  Soon it was inviting enough to take more than a quick potty break out the front door.  We decided to take a walk around the block.  Jellybean dutifully did her thing and we continued on with our walk.  Suddenly, Jellybean stopped in her tracks.  Her tail began to wag.  I looked to see what had caught her attention.  It was her new friend, Kramer!  Both dogs were excited to see each other, so they greeted and sniffed and wagged and sniffed some more.  It was at that point that Kramer’s mom suggested we stop in so Kramer and Jellybean could have a little puppy playtime.  I was concerned that Jellybean’s feet might be wet and didn’t want her dirtying anyone’s carpet.  Kramer’s mom assured me it would all be just fine, so we agreed to stop in for a little bit.  Once inside, we both removed the leashes from our respective puppies.

Jellybean wasted no time!  She took off and headed straight for the bone that Kramer had lovingly placed in the dining room, unaware that it soon would be confiscated by her new friend.  Jellybean picked up the bone, turned and headed up the steps.  Now mind you, this is the first time we have been in this house.  I was mortified! “Jellybean,” I yelled, “Get down here!”  Nothing.  “Jellybean, get down here!”  We all turned as Jellybean came charging down the steps into the dining room.  I should mention the bone was nowhere in sight.  She began racing around the dining room table.  Soon, Kramer joined her and they began playfully chasing each other around the house.  As they played, we sat in the living room and chatted.  Suddenly, Jellybean turned toward me, looked at the couch and suddenly raced toward it.  She jumped on the couch, ran from end to end, then without warning jumped onto the coffee table and slid off the other side.  She then jumped back up on the couch, onto the coffee table and off the other side before stopping to catch her breath.  It was at this time I was thinking, “This is the last time we are ever going to get invited here!”  I reached down while the getting was good and clicked her leash in place.  I was embarrassed beyond belief that my puppy would behave this way in someone else’s home.  Barb, on the other hand, thought Jellybean was a hoot!  Thank goodness she is a true dog person and found the humor in Jellybean’s burst of energy and over the top behaviors.  Hopefully Kramer was able to recover his bone and relax with his mom the rest of the evening.  I’m thinking that next time, perhaps Jellybean and I should host the puppy playtime!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

My Little Chubba Wubba

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A trip to the Vet Saturday morning for a routine vaccine for my happy go lucky puppy ended with me feeling like the worst puppy parent ever.  As the doctor flipped through the pages of records that have accumulated in Jellybean’s short four years, I knew from the look on her face, she wasn’t happy.  Now mind you, I usually leave the Vet’s office feeling pretty darn special, as she has proclaimed me to be one of her top three favorite people in the whole world.  Jellybean’s teeth are apparently among the most beautiful set of dog choppers she has ever seen.  That would be thanks to my diligence in perching her on the sink and brushing them every day with doggie toothpaste.  Not the cheap stuff mind you, I pay an exorbitant $10.00 for the Vet-recommended tooth paste.  Jellybean is partial to the Vanilla Mint, although as much as she likes chicken, I thought the poultry flavored would be to her liking.  Her eyes are clear and bright, the fur around them white and clean.  So often dogs of her breed have stains around their eyes from the watering that is a consequence of their shallow facial structure.  Not Jellybean, I wash her eyes every morning, then diligently apply eye drops to keep her allergies and watery eyes in check. She also drinks bottled water, as I have read that tap water can promote staining in dogs of her stature.  She is brushed every day as part of her morning grooming to ensure that her heavy coat does not tangle and mat.  It should be obvious to anyone I make Jellybean’s care a priority.

That being said, I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable when the Vet’s brow furrowed as she flipped back and forth between the pages of visitation notes.  I had a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I knew exactly what she was referencing; Jellybean’s weight.  Yep, my little Jellybean is a chip off the old block.  She loves to eat!  She loves to snack!  She lives for cheese!  When I was asked to put Jellybean on the scale, I wanted to pull the old weigh-in trick that I have personally observed at a local weight loss clinic.  The old strip down as far as permissible before weighing in technique could have applied here.  I am certain that the heavy knit cable sweater that Jellybean was wearing that day accounted for at least half a pound.  Then there was also the heavy metal clip on her leash.  If the ladies I observed can take off their earrings and any additional jewelry along with sweaters, jackets, shoes, socks, etc. before weighing in, then certainly Jellybean should have the same option.  But alas, with her squirming and wriggling, they settled for a weight that showed up twice on the digital scale.  So, when the doctor looked up and stated her “concern” that Jellybean has gained three pounds in the last two years….in my mind I immediately began subtracting for the sweater, the clip and the squirminess while on the scale.  I calculate that she is probably two pounds overweight, not three.  Red-faced I stood there and had to answer questions about her daily feeding.  Her kibble is not the problem, and I was honest about that.  I measure out her food daily.  It is the snacks and treats that are doing her in.  I admitted that I am an emotional eater, and my poor little puppy, who loves her mom so much, has taken on the same bad habits when it comes to eating.

The expectation is that when we return to the Vet in June, for Jellybean’s annual physical and shots, she is to be about three pounds lighter.  Although I appear to make light of this predicament, I do understand that it is my responsibility to see that Jellybean is happy and healthy.  This really hit home when I went to the grocery store later that day and bought a pack of ground beef, three pounds to be exact. As I placed it in my cart, it hit me.  Oh my goodness, this is how much extra weight my little chubba wubba is carrying on her small frame.  It’s time for some changes in our household, for both the two-legged and four-legged kind.  New Year’s resolutions, here we come!

To be continued…….

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Sharing the Love

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Jellybean and I recently participated in a therapy visit to a local nursing home.  There were five dogs and two cats along for the visit, in addition to each of their handlers.  It was a unique visit for me, as the nursing home was located in a small town in the southern part of the county where I spent the first twenty three years of my life.  As the residents walked, shuffled, wheeled or were in some cases assisted into the large activity room, now forty years later, I found myself looking deeply into the faces of the residents and searching for some familiarity.  I found it in the face of a gentleman, who sat very quietly off to the side.  He did not speak, nor did he reach out to pet Jellybean, nor any of the other visiting furry friends for that matter.  I tried not to be obvious, but there was something very familiar about him.  His hair line and squared off chin brought forth some very fuzzy images from my childhood, but not enough for me to determine where he fit in my life.  Although he did not actively participate in touching the dogs and cats, there was a twinkle in his eye that let everyone know he was very much enjoying the visit.

The room was buzzing with chatter and laughter as the therapy pets and handlers made their way around the circle.  One gentleman shared the story of how his dog brought him back to life.  He was on the verge of passing and his family brought his dog into the hospital to visit with him.  He told me with tear-filled eyes it took a few hours but all of a sudden he felt himself changing and he worked to bring himself out of his quiet reverie.  As he continued to stroke Jellybean’s fluffy head, he looked up at me and said, “And here I am to tell you my story.”  I need no further proof that the love between pets and their owners knows no bounds.

Jellybean and I then perched ourselves between an elderly resident and her mother, who had come in specifically to see her mother interact with the therapy animals.  Jellybean had the benefit of sitting on my lap, which she loves, and having both women gently stroke her soft fur at the same time.  In other words, she was in doggy heaven!  They began asking questions about Jellybean, so I shared how my precious little puppy became part of my life.  I also shared that because she is quite a little character when not in therapy mode, she inspired my first children’s picture books.  They immediately asked about the books.  Never one to disappoint, I reached into Jellybean’s back pack and produced not one, not two, but the entire Jellybean trilogy.  Before long, the daughter began reading Naughty Little Puppy out loud to her mother.  Those in close proximity leaned in closer so that they were able to hear.  It was the most beautiful thing ever; story time in the nursing home.  They giggled and laughed at Jellybean’s silly antics and talked about the colorful illustrations.  Suddenly I was transported back to my kindergarten classroom in the midst of the best picture walk ever.  Those in close proximity were engaged and focused on the book.  It was actually quite humbling and yet it made me realize that it really is true that as we age, we sometimes revert back to seeing things through a child’s eyes.

It was a wonderful visit.  The morning flew by and soon the resident’s attention was diverted by the enticing aroma of lunch being prepared for them.  With that, the group began gathering back packs, water bowls, and of course dogs and cats and bid adieu until the next time.  I walked Jellybean to the car, dropped off her accoutrements, took her on a potty walk, gave her a drink of cold water, then plopped her in her little car seat.  She was fast asleep before we even made it back to Main Street.  As I drove home, my mind wandered, and I began thinking about the opportunities animal therapy provides.  Although my schedule does not allow us to do as many visits as I would like, I am honored to be involved in a program that makes people happy simply by sharing the love.

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

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! 

“Furever” Grateful

Actress Doris Day once said, “I have found when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”  I agree whole-heartedly with this statement and recently experienced a dose of this unconditional love from my own puppy.  As many of you know, Jellybean and I are a therapy team and when my schedule allows, we participate in events along with our local KPets chapter.  Jellybean is always eager to meet new people and get a few extra belly rubs along the way.

Recently, however, I was in need of some therapy of my own.  My mother, who is 83, and has always been extremely healthy, suffered a heart attack.  The doctors shook their heads in disbelief to discover that at 83 she was on no medication and the last time she was in the hospital was in 1960, when she gave birth to my youngest sister.  I knew when she called and asked me to take her to urgent care because she didn’t feel well, something serious was going on.  Fortunately I live about five minutes away from her and arrived quickly.  Imagine my surprise to find her lying on the bathroom floor, pale and gray.  She was still able to speak and said her chest hurt.  I immediately called 911 and within 5 minutes the medics were at the door.  I rode up front in the ambulance and called my sister on the way.  I was scared and was trying so hard to keep thoughts of my husband’s fatal heart attack 15 years ago at bay.

As I waited to hear something from anybody, I ran into an old friend who sat with me and talked about this and that.  I know now that it was her way of keeping me calm and focused.  I was able to talk to my sister again and called my best friend and asked if she could go to my house and be with my puppy, as I had no way to know how long I would be gone.  In the meantime, a liaison from the hospital took me back to the family room so I could wait away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital to wait for news of my mom.  And then the tears started and the memories came flooding back.  I could see myself standing at the phone in my classroom in total disbelief as my stepson, only a teenager at the time, tried so hard to remain composed and delivered the news that he had walked in from school to his father having a heart attack and that he would meet me at the hospital.  I still am not sure how I got there, but I did.  After tearfully explaining who I was and that my husband had just been brought in, a hospital liaison took me back to a quiet little room to wait.  Sitting in that room, alone, waiting for my stepson to arrive and not knowing what was happening with my husband, the love of my life, was so painful.   Suddenly the door opened and the liaison returned, much more solemnly than the first time I had met her.  She quietly delivered the news that my husband had died on the way to the hospital.  All of this was spinning in my head as I sat and once again in a little room by myself to await any news on my mother.

My sister arrived as quickly as she could.  We cried together a little bit and decided we should let our brother know what was happening, as well as our sister in Las Vegas.  Shortly after those calls had been made a doctor came in to update us.  Our mother was in the Cath Lab.  They had already discovered that she had 100% blockage of the main artery that runs across the front of the heart.  The procedure to insert a stent was in process. The prognosis looked good.  She had arrived quickly enough that there did not appear to be other damage.  The fact that she was in such good general health was in her favor.  The hospital was great, making sure that my sister and I were always in close proximity to her, as she moved from one care unit to another.  As a matter of fact, everything went so well that 5 hours later, around 1:00 AM, they had sent my sister and I home so that our mother could rest in between the routine monitoring and bloodwork that would occur throughout the night.

Still a bit scared and nervous we headed to my house, where my friend, Michele, and my puppy were waiting for us.  Mind you, it is quite unusual for either of them to be up at 1:30 in the morning, but both were wide awake.  Jellybean immediately could sense my nervousness.  She stayed right by my side as the three of us sat at the table drinking hot tea and eating animal crackers, well…. four of us were eating animal crackers.  Throughout the night, Jellybean, who shares my bed, stayed pretty close as I tossed and turned all night long.  The next morning, although happy to see our houseguests, she still wanted to be by me.  Mind you, she is a bit of a mamma’s girl, but she was overly protective of me throughout the day and the next several as well.  I found myself really holding on to Jellybean over the next few days.  She eagerly sat with me and several times reached out with her little paw and laid it on my leg as if to say “Everything is going to be okay.”  She even lapped up a tear or two.  My mother was released a few days later and came to stay with us for a few days.  When it was time for bed, Jellybean snuggled right alongside my mother until it was time for her last potty call.  In the morning she bolted down the steps and headed toward the bedroom.  It was almost as though Jellybean knew she had to be extra gentle with her.  She didn’t pounce like she usually does, but once again snuggled up against her. And so the “silent devotion” continued in the days following.  I am “furever” grateful to have a puppy that willingness shares her heart with me, my family and the children, college students, elderly and community members that benefit from her sloppy kisses as a therapy dog.  I am also grateful to have such a wonderful friend, who didn’t even blink when I asked her to leave her family in my time of need.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

One Smart Cookie

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Is it possible that dogs understand the English language?  If so, then my puppy, Jellybean, would be considered a high achiever, at least in the canine world.  She has all the normal conversational words down pat; go potty, walk, leash, treat.  However, my smart little cookie comprehends entire conversations.  Case in point; yesterday as I was preparing to do laundry, I looked at Jellybean and said, “So…what did you do with my sock?”  Ever since she was a puppy, Jellybean has slept with my socks.   She lays claim to them as soon as I take them off.  Therefore, I would naturally assume she would know the location of my blue sneaker sock’s partner. She looked up at me with those big black eyes, as if to say “Well, how would I know?”  Then, she suddenly turned and ran down the steps.  As I was putting the laundry in the washing machine, Jellybean came running out of the guest bedroom, my blue sock dangling from her mouth.  Wow!  That is downright amazing!

This evening Jellybean was stretched out in the middle of the living room floor, a pout on her face and some serious dog whining going on.  “What’s the matter Jellybean?  Isn’t anyone paying any attention to you?  Why don’t you go get the bone you hid this morning after breakfast?  Remember, you didn’t have time to eat it before I had to leave for the morning.”  And just like that she took off like a hound dog chasing a rabbit.  Two minutes later, she came trotting back into the living room, bone clenched tightly between her shiny white teeth.  A minute later, the crunchy bone was history and Jellybean was once again a happy camper.

All I have to say is “Jellybean, the cows are out!”  She comes running.  She heads for the sectional sofa, the chaise to be exact and positions herself on the edge so that she can watch the cows that have gathered by the fence in the shade.  She is fascinated by their tails that are constantly in motion as they keep the summer flies at bay.  Me?  I am just amazed that I live in the suburbs and have cows in my backyard and have a dog that understands where the cows are busy shading themselves.

When sitting on the sofa in the evening, I look at her and ask, “Jellybean, did you talk to Lambie today?”  She looks at me, head tilted, then looks at the lamb-shaped pillow pet on the floor in front of the television, looks back at me, and takes off.  She sniffs at Lambie’s ears affectionately, pulls at her with her paws, almost like she is fluffing her up, then, pounces on her fluffy friend.  It is a nightly ritual.

How does she know what I am saying?  I have correctly assumed she picks up on some key words, such as sock and bone.  According to Animal Planet, the average dog can understand somewhere around 165 different words.  They can actually learn all kinds of words, especially if they are associated with concrete actions or objects.  I’m sure Jellybean has mastered at least 300 different words, as she is definitely smarter than the average bear.  It never ceases to amaze me, though, how she appears to listen to my conversations and know what I am talking about.  No doubt, she is one smart cookie!

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Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Dem Bones Dem Bones Dem Dog Bones

What dog doesn’t love a bone?  A good bone can provide hours of entertainment.  It can also provide great exercise for the jaw bone and helps to keep gums and teeth clean and healthy.  Jellybean is obsessed with her bones.  Oh my, she has quite the collection;  run of the  mill bones purchased from the pet store, usually stuffed with a peanut butter concoction, antlers of varying shapes and sizes, which I consider bones, since they serve the same purpose,  and the bone of all bones.  This is no ordinary bone.  It is a knuckle bone and is as big as Jellybean’s head and must be equivalent to one fifth of her body weight.  Yet, she carries it with her everywhere.  Like Under Dog, ready to jump into action and save the day, she leaps from floor to sofa, sofa to floor effortlessly, while holding her prized possession.  She runs up and down the steps, jaws clenched tightly around it, tail and head held high as she carries it from place to place.  She plays with it, gnaws on it, talks to it, and spends ever so much time hiding it.

There is nothing quite as unnerving as the sound of a 3 pound bone bouncing its’ way down the steps with a THUMP!  BUMP!  THUD!  WHUMP!  Although the sound of Jellybean batting her beloved bone across the wooden floor with a TUMBLE!  JUMBLE!  SLIP!  SLIDE! can quickly bring you out of a quiet reverie.  But wait; there is nothing so unnerving as the CLUNK, CRASH, and CLATTER of the bone being dropped into the soaker tub.  Mind you there is no water to soften the sound.  This is especially effective when a nap had been in process.  As this unsuspecting dog mom hits her big toe on the giant hunk of calcium that is oh so carefully hidden under the corner of the king sized bed quilt, I let out a yell “Danielle Jellybean Stiffler Smith!  If I step on that bone one more time!  HOLY MOTHER OF HOUNDS that hurt!”  Only to be met with a wagging tail and those big, black, soulful eyes looking up at me as if to say, “What, you found my bone?  Thanks so much.  I lost track of it!”

“Alright, here you go Jellybean, my precious little peanut.  Here’s your bone.”  And off she goes, head and tail held high, her precious bone clenched tightly between her sparkling white teeth.  And then I hear, TING!  RING!  THWACK! WHOP!   as it ricochets across the kitchen floor, bouncing off all appliances along the way.  Who knew a bone could provide so much entertainment for a rambunctious little puppy?

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here!