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! 

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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! 

 

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!

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! 

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! 

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 Dog That Thought She Was A Cat

Cats are notorious for lounging on the window sill.  They can relax for hours as the bright sun warms their fur.  With their sharp vision, they observe daily life on the other side of the window.  Out there; people walk by, cars zoom past, squirrels frolic in the leaves and scamper up and down trees in search of the day’s bounty.  Let’s not forget the birds that perch on the edge of the tree limbs and tweet out their sweet melodies or the tiny spiders that busily weave webs that stretch across the window pane.  Cats are intrigued by it all and can lose themselves in the daily activities that surround them.  Wait a minute, hold up, back up the bus…..

High above her cushy bed, Jellybean perches on her window seat.  She basks in the sunshine, letting it warm her fur.  Her eyes scanning the world outside the window, Jellybean watches as people walk by, cars zoom past, squirrels frolic in the leaves and scamper up and down trees in search of the day’s bounty.  Let’s not forget the birds that perch on the edge of the tree limbs and tweet out their sweet melodies or the tiny spiders that busily weave webs that stretch across the window pane. Squirrels, people, and spiders, oh my!  But wait, something is wrong with this picture.  Although demonstrating cat-like behaviors, Jellybean by no means is a cat.  For those who are familiar with my blog, you know that Jellybean is a spunky, sweet, precocious little puppy.  She just happens to love spending her quiet time in the window, demonstrating cat-like behaviors.  She watches.  She stretches and arches her back.  She licks her paws and preens her white fur to satisfy the diva in her.  She watches some more.  She sleeps in the sun as the world passes by her window.  I’m not too concerned that she may be having an identity crisis, as the rest of her day is spent doing what dogs do;  chewing on bones, playing with squeaky toys, hiding her treats, and yes, chasing her tail.

Just how did this penchant for becoming a furry piece of window candy come to be?  Actually, I remember it quite well.  It was Thanksgiving Eve, 2014. I was prepping for Thanksgiving dinner for the usual eleven family members. Jellybean was only seven months old, a rambunctious, care free pup running around the house getting her naughty on.  While Thanksgiving dinner itself is not that involved; stuff a turkey, peel potatoes and make some gravy, for my family it is the infamous “second round” that requires the most effort.  After the noon-time meal has been devoured, football games enjoyed, board games played, and respective naps taken throughout the day, we indulge in an array of homemade goodness.  A spread of various salads, cheese & veggie trays, homemade dips, pickled eggs, baked mac & cheese or rich cream of crab soup, turkey sandwiches with all the fixings, pumpkin pie, cake, cookies, rich desserts, oh and don’t forget all the crunchy stuff like chips, pretzels, tortilla chips and salsa. It is a sight to behold and takes hours of prep work.  I love to cook, however, and nothing gives me more pleasure than having my family over for a day of pure homemade goodness!  Only this year, there was a caveat I had not experienced previously; namely my sweet, energetic, naughty little puppy.  She was into everything, which created one interruption after another.  Sequestering her in the kitchen worked for a while until a piece of onion fell to the floor and she made a beeline for it. At that point I needed a plan C.  It was at that moment I noticed snowflakes falling.  The large bay window in my kitchen allowed me the pleasure of enjoying nature during those times I would get my Betty Crocker on.

Hey, wait a minute! I think I have a plan C!  I folded one of Jellybean’s blankets and placed it on the deep window sill, then picked her up and settled her on the blanket.  She was immediately intrigued by the falling snow.  A squirrel ran down the side of the tree and across the yard.  Her eyes followed it until the bushy brown tail was no longer in sight….and the rest is history!  To this day, three years later, the window is Jellybean’s favorite chill spot.  She soaks up the sun and watches the world go by.  She has actually become quite the neighborhood spectacle.  Neighbors slow down as they drive by and peer out their car windows to see if she is in her spot of choice taking stock of the neighborhood.  People out for a walk with their dogs point and chuckle at her.  The mail carrier even takes the time to give Jellybean a wave.  I am so glad I discovered Jellybean’s appreciation for the world around her, even if it appears she has taken her cue from her feline friends.

Perhaps we all could learn a little something from Jellybean and take the time to slow down and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, one squirrel at a time.

 

 

The Napping Dog

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

Sloppy Kisses

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

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

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