Social Distancing Jellybean Style

The world has been turned upside down by the Corona Virus.  Life as we know it may be forever changed.  As Jellybean and I try to navigate the new normal, our lives look so different; gatherings with family and friends on hold with communication now being through a variety of technology, casual neighborhood gatherings now very rare and always at the appropriate social distance, afternoons frolicking with four-legged friends at doggy daycare when I was scheduled to sub at a local daycare simply not needed, trips out for necessities now come armed with hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and the oh so essential mask.  These are crazy and frightening times for sure, but we have to keep our chin up and stay positive.  We have to look for the little things around us that bring smiles to our faces and that familiar warmth to our hearts.  For me, that is my precious little, albeit extra fluffy, Jellybean.

That being said, Jellybean and I now have a new game we play called Are You Social Distancing? She has always been one to hide her treats and then lurk in the vicinity watching to make sure it is safe.  You may remember that my second picture book, The Perfect Hiding Place, covers Jellybean’s quirky behavior on this topic.  But lately she has begun hiding herself, well at least partially hiding herself, for no apparent reason.  That is, unless, the reason is because we are quarantined here together, and she is tired of playing twenty questions throughout the day.  “Hi there Jellybean!”  “What are you up to Jellybean?”  “What are you doing Pumpkin?”  “Would you like me to brush you… again?”  “What’s up, JB?”  “Hey Beaner, want to go for another walk?”  “Jellybean, where are you?”  “JB, are you social distancing again?  Why am I here and you are there?”  Hmmmm.  I may be driving my puppy to social distance with my constant attention and chatter.  What’s that you say, time to back off a little bit?  I think not.  You can find me on the floor, directly across from Jellybean peering under the bed, chair, sofa, etc. to catch those big, black, expressive eyes and have a face-to-face conversation on her level. Hey, wait a minute, did she just roll her eyes at me?


Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

There’s A New Kid On the Block


My neighbors just brought home the cutest puppy!  She is a Bernese mix; roly-poly, soft, fluffy, and oh so playful.  Watching her romp around with Jellybean and her best bud Josie has me reminiscing Jellybean’s puppyhood.  Can it really be five years since I brought Jellybean to her fur-ever home?  Oh my, what a rambunctious little puppy she was, rightfully earning the moniker “The Wild Child.”  This was bestowed upon her by our neighbor a few doors away.  He would watch us “walk” by his house; Jellybean pulling on the leash, chewing on the leash, spinning in circles trying to catch her fluffy tail, stopping to nap in the middle of the road, standing on her hind legs while pawing at the air with her front legs in pursuit of a squirrel or rabbit, pouncing on a pinecone as it rolled down the street, wildly jumping up without abandon on anyone who dared to stop and pet her, and just being a goofball in general. Jellybean is still quite playful and quite a character, but has definitely lost the wild abandon she had as a young puppy.

Getting back to watching her romp and play with her new little friend Candy, I can’t help but think I have done her an injustice by making her an only pup.  Although I must say she is one happy, spoiled little pup, whose mama dotes on her and ensures she has all the necessities in life, and then some.  I am in awe of people who have more than one dog.  How do they do it?  The expenses are doubled, tripled, quadrupled for things such as pet insurance, vet visits, annual medications, apparel, toys, food, treats, etc.  Maybe when my picture books about Jellybean become Caldecott and Mom’s Choice Award winners, and they are flying off the shelves and Amazon can barely keep up with the print orders, I will be able to afford two or three little sisters for Jellybean.  Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?  For now though, I will continue to be the best two-legged mama I can for my four-legged little girl.  I will continue to shower her with love and all the toys, treats, latest doggy apparel, and whatever else her little doggy heart desires.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Jellybean’s Closet – The Book


Jellybean and I have been enjoying the success of the three children’s picture books I have written since retiring from the public school system.  These books star none other than Jellybean, my own diva dog extraordinaire.  The trilogy highlights Jellybean’s playful and rambunctious personality through simple story lines suitable for the young crowd.  Thirty five years working with children, ages three to six, made it a rather predictable genre for me to choose.  Having a puppy with such a big personality made for some great story lines.   I guess you could say it was a match made in heaven.  Naughty Little Puppy, The Perfect Hiding Place, and Sloppy Kisses are simple, predictable and easy to read books that portray positive messages such as unconditional love, problem solving, and perseverance.

I thought the trilogy was it.  Three is a nice number.  The books bring opportunities for some Amazon sales and many author visits to local schools, libraries and community events.  Sharing my stories and seeing children react with laughter at Jellybean’s antics or by recognizing repetitive patterns in the stories that encourage audience participation, brings more joy than you can imagine.  Having the real life character right in the classroom as the stories are being read is a big deal to young children who are just beginning to understand the concepts of print, characters in the story, parts of a book, and the role that the author and illustrator play in creating the book.  I have truly been blessed to have this opportunity.  Like I said, I was happy with three stories, until one day I was standing in front of Jellybean’s closet and thought, “Oh, this is a story just waiting to happen.”

You’ve heard about Jellybean’s closet in previous blogs.  I should be embarrassed at the amount of doggy apparel that Jellybean’s perfectly organized closet is able to hold.  But I’m not.  I’m happy she is such a good sport when it comes to showcasing the latest canine fashion trends and that I am able to keep her in such adorable doggy attire.  You have to admit she wears it well, right down to the fashionable swimsuit she is modeling in the photo at the top of the blog.  This photo was snapped when Jellybean was taking a break from water play on the deck with her best bud.  I am fortunate that my very talented illustrator is on board as well.  As a matter of fact, I just finished texting lots of pics to her of Jellybean’s infamous closet and the outfits that will be highlighted in the new book appropriately titled, Jellybean’s Closet.  It is such an exciting time!  Over the next months, I will be anxiously awaiting to see Shana’s sketches  as she expertly uses her watercolor pencils to make her drawings come to life!  Children can expect to see Jellybean wearing outfits that are a perfect match for the weather during a week in the life of my precocious little pup.  Goodbye Jellybean’s trilogy! See you soon Jellybean’s quadrilogy, tetralogy, or would it be quartet?  Book number four, here we come!


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! 

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 Chubba Wubba


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! 

One Smart Cookie


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!




Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

It’s A Hard Knock Life


It has been a busy couple of weeks for Jellybean;  recovering from the unfortunate ear biting incident, moving into a new house, and the craziness of the Fourth of July fireworks celebrations that just wouldn’t stop.  Jellybean says, “I’m just going to stretch out here on the couch and take a little nap.  I’ll see you in two weeks.  Maybe by then I’ll be all rested and will be ready to tell you about my new bone and the fun sounds it makes on the hard wood floors, all my new hiding places for treats, my new puppy friends, my amazing closet, or perhaps the cows that come down to graze by the fence that meets my back yard.  I have so many ideas, but I feel this nap coming on.”  Oh my Jellybean, that was a big yawn!  I guess you do need a nap.  We’ll see you in two weeks!


Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 


The Great Canine Badge Caper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Klatch of the Four-Legged Kind


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