A Day Without Jellybean

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I am having some remodeling done at my house and have discovered that the Thundershirt and Pheromone spray are no match for the piercing sound of a power drill for Jellybean’s delicate ears.  A morning of hiding out downstairs in the family room did not work for us, as the drill penetrated and seemingly shook the ceiling above us with its high-pitched whirl and sudden grinding as the screws began to find their way home.  Let me tell you, I had one big-eyed, unhappy puppy on my hands.  As we were only thirty minutes into the day’s project, I called my mother to see if Jellybean could come over for the day.

After reassuring Jellybean that she was going to go visit Grandma and all would be okay, I headed upstairs to pack her lunch and grab a toy and her harness.  She cautiously peered out from the top of the stairway when she realized it had suddenly gone quiet and I was having a conversation with my carpenter.  After getting some love from him, out the door we went.  Jellybean walked out through the garage and driveway proudly carrying her Minnie Mouse lunch box, a sight I just never get tired of seeing.

With Jellybean content at my Mother’s house for a day of being loved on by her Grandma, I returned home to knock a few items off my to-do list. My, oh my, how different it is when Jellybean is not in the house.  Rarely does she go to my mother’s or doggy daycare on a day when I am going to be at the house.  I generally plan those outings for when I am subbing at a local preschool.  I cannot tell you how many times I reached down to pet her or turned to see why she wasn’t following in my footsteps.  It is actually quite unsettling how quiet the house became that day even in the midst of one wall coming down and another going up.  It makes me appreciate her even more.  She is such a precious gift and a huge part of my life.  When she returns home trust me, there will be some snuggling and sloppy kisses to be had!  A friend once told me “A day without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze!”  Well, let me tell you, a day without Jellybean is like a kiss that’s missing the sloppy.  In other words, it just doesn’t feel right.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

The Dog That Has Everything…but wants only ONE thing!

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This weekend I started a project from my home improvement to do list.  My wrist has hopefully healed well enough from the last go round of wall paper removal.  This would be the one that sent me for several visits to OSS, a cortisone shot and a five-week stint in a wrist brace.  This time I invested in a power steamer.  What an amazing little piece of equipment!  It is so much better than trying to hack off bits of professionally hung wallpaper that was intended to stay put until the end of time.

Knowing that Jellybean can be a bit needy, I prepared ahead of time for my work day.  I pulled a few of Jellybean’s favorite toys from her ridiculously large, overflowing basket so they would be readily available to her.  Then I prepared a bone by coating the inside with peanut butter, a particular favorite of hers, and to top it off even stuffed a few little treats inside.  I made sure her water fountain was running at full speed and placed her favorite blanket as close to my work space as possible.  I made sure that Jellybean and I took a long, rambling walk in the morning – just the way she likes it.  We came back for some extra snuggle time and played with her favorite little hedgehog.  Finally, everything was set and I was ready to begin my project.  But wait!  It takes about 15 minutes for the steam to start pouring out of the plate, so that gave us a few extra minutes to play.  Being the over the top dog momma that I am, I even explained to Jellybean what was going to be happening for the next few hours.

By the time I had positioned myself on the ladder and placed the steamer plate on the wall, Jellybean had finished her peanut butter bone.  Not even ten minutes into the project the whining had begun.   “Jellybean, get your toy!  Get your Hedgehog!  Oh look, there’s Mr. Pizza.  Come on Jellybean, you have so many choices!”  I suddenly feel like I am back in my Kindergarten class asking a student, “Would you like the kangaroo counters or would you like the Digi blocks for your math activity today?” I return to my work only to hear more whining, becoming more intense and more pitiful with each well-timed puppy breath.  Oh, and the eyes, those big, black soulful eyes now genuine puppy dog eyes staring me down.  “Jellybean, really?  I spent the entire morning with you.  Now it’s my turn to get some things done around here.  I can’t be with you every second of the day.”  I continued to steam and scrape.  The whining continued only now it was coming from under my ladder.  “No, Jellybean, you can’t be over here.  All this wallpaper will stick to your feet and fur.  Jellybean, I said no.  Oh, my Jellybean, you’re killing me here.”  And so the afternoon went with Jellybean whining and me pleading with her to make good choices, until finally I turned to her and said, “That’s it, Jellybean, you’re going to Grandma’s.  You want attention?  You’ll get so much attention you won’t know what to do with it.  Now, get your ball cap on and let’s get going.”  Oh my, I think I’ve created a monster, a furry, loveable four-legged little monster!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

May I Have An Adjective, Please?

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Someone recently asked me to describe Jellybean in one word.  What? Describe her in one word?  I don’t see how I can do that!  Always up for a challenge, however, I thought about it for a while.  Sassy would be a good word to describe her, but so are playful and silly.  Then there’s lovable, spoiled and stubborn.  Okay, okay.  I can’t do it. There is no one word to describe this precious little puppy.  So, let me flip this game around and ask the question “May I have an adjective please?”  Here’s a few that would describe Jellybean quite well:

Rambunctious, affectionate, happy, precocious, amusing, joyful, assuming, bright-eyed, trusting, feisty, demanding, cuddly, stubborn, shy, eager-to-please, spoiled, rowdy, energetic, pouty, bright, faithful, loving, fun, pretty, exhausting, gentle, timid, goofy, pampered, therapy dog, naughty, frisky, loyal, mischievous, unpredictable, diva-like, friendly, cute, protective, smart, family, entertaining, pouty, loved, furry, snuggly, chubby, joyful, daring, sweet, devoted, wonderful, unassuming,  soft, best friend, well-dressed, accommodating, active, needy, merry, hilarious, well-groomed, gleeful, and lucky.

So there you have it, just a few words to describe my sweet little Jellybean.  Our pups are our family.  They have so much personality and are such a big part of our lives.  Now I’ll pass the challenge on to you.  Can you describe your furry little friend in one word or will you too need a plethora of adjectives to get the job done right?

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! 

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 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! 

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The Move

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Change is not always an easy thing for humans, much less our four-legged companions.  As Jellybean and I prepare to embark on a new phase in our lives, a new home, I have been contemplating how to ensure that my little four-legged friend transitions successfully.  Of course I have considered some of the obvious;  routine, safety, and familiarity.  I know there may be some things I have not considered.  Therefore, I googled “How to prepare for a move with your dog” and found there were over 2 million sites I could check out.  Obviously, I am not the only one who is a bit nervous about the impact that a move may have on a furry friend.

The research explains how to pack for your dog, making sure not to wash beds and blankets, as the familiarity of their former home will be an important factor in adjusting to the new home.  They suggest recreating familiar spaces and routines to keep the environment as stress free as possible.  Prior to  moving in, it is important to explore the new home with safety in mind.  Once there, introduce areas of the home a bit at a time and be sure to keep the same rules they followed at the old homestead.  There are many things to think about as I prepare us for this move.  I am happy to say that most of what I have researched has already been on my mental “how to keep my puppy happy and well-adjusted” list.

The thing that concerns me most is how Jellybean will adjust to having just me in her daily life, as it used to be.  You see, we have spent the most incredible year and a half with my sister and brother-in-law.  Not only do I think about how difficult it will be for me to go back to living as a widow, with Jellybean as my outlet for conversation and unconditional love, I also think of how difficult it will be for me to fill Jellybean’s very large bucket of neediness.  Likewise for my sister and brother-in-law, as she has become a cherished part of their lives.  Daily conversations generally consist of things like;  “Did you see Jellybean chase her tail this morning?”  “Jellybean fell asleep with her head on my lap this afternoon.”  “Jellybean spent all morning hiding her treat, then, I sat with her and we watched squirrels playing in the yard.”  “I sang the crunchies and chicken song to Jellybean today and she ate everything in her bowl.”  “What is Jellybean’s schedule today?”  Jellybean!  Jellybean!  Jellybean!  The three of us cannot seem to have a conversation without including the antics of Jellybean.  Although it will be a transition for all of us, we are not moving to another state.  Quite the contrary, we are moving 30 minutes east.  We have already talked about daily schedules and how Jellybean can spend the day with her aunt and uncle when I have to work.  We have even gone as far as to talk about sleepovers.  Crazy, isn’t it?  But then, how wonderful it is to have a family that cares so much.  Jellybean and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

 

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.

April Follies

 

April is a busy month for one little puppy.  Jellybean celebrates her fourth birthday on April 1st.  My how those years have flown by!  She has grown from an energetic “wild child”, the moniker my neighbor gave her at 14 weeks, into my rambunctious, lovable, “fur-ever” companion.  This year she helped to celebrate the upcoming April 1st Easter holiday by participating in an “Easter Trunk Parade.”  Always one to dress for the occasion, Jellybean donned her pink Easter shirt, complete with bunny tail and curly hair bows.  She interacted with the children, letting them pet her soft fur, as they skipped from car trunk to car trunk gathering Easter sweets.  Jellybean will always be the little nugget of sugar that gifted me a new meaning to April 1st.  No longer just the painful memory of the anniversary of my husband’s passing, April 1st is now more about celebrating Jellybean’s special brand of puppy love.  She is my little April’s Fool!