The Shaggy Dog versus A Chia Pet

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For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I am pretty particular when it comes to taking care of my sweet little Jellybean.  As a Shichon, her coat is rather complicated.  She has a very thick undercoat and a silky top coat.  It makes for some great petting.  When we are out on our therapy visits or promoting our children’s books, Jellybean is quite often complimented on her soft, thick coat.  It has been said she “feels like a cotton ball”, “is like a pillow”, “is squishy” and one of my favorites, “she feels like a marshmallow.”

Well, let me tell you, that cotton bally, squishy, marshmallowy coat doesn’t get that way by itself.  I am very deliberate in her daily grooming, which includes coat, teeth, eyes and feet.  I brush her AT LEAST once a day, making sure there are no tangles in that dense coat of hers.  I also pay attention to eyes, ears, teeth and feet daily, but today’s blog is about her coat so we will stay focused there.  Jellybean sees her groomer, Miss Angie, once a month.  Every four weeks Jellybean is treated to the spa package; a trim, bath, extra conditioning, nail trim, ear exam/trim and tooth brushing.  Well, that is until the Corona Virus hit and everything was shut down.  She is now four weeks overdue for her grooming appointment.  Oh my goodness.  Talk about a bad hair day.  She surely does look like the infamous shaggy dog.  I am now brushing her three times a day just to keep the tangles at bay.  Let’s not even talk about the nails. That is surely a story for another day.

The other day, I looked at Jellybean romping across the floor with her favorite hedgehog toy, and I thought to myself, “She kind of reminds me of a Chia Pet.”  Just how do you care for a Chia Pet, a real live, four-legged Chia Pet?  Let me break it down for you.  FIRST, everything comes to a grinding halt due to COVID-19.  NEXT, you go along as though nothing happened, grooming as usual.  AFTER THAT, you realize this pandemic is not going to end anytime soon, so you add some water in the form of a bath, trying to keep the coat clean, silky, and tangle free.  OF COURSE, you will need to up the daily brushing to two or three sessions.  CONTINUE brushing, watering and be sure to add in some time to run and play out in the sunshine.  Wait a minute, I think all this brushing, watering, and sunning is making her hair grow faster.  FINALLY, as I hold her on my lap, I determine all that junk in her trunk is not from snacking, she is carrying a least an extra pound or two of hair.  According to the directions, once a Chia Pet gets a little “leggy” as they say, you are supposed to remove the old growth.  Oh Miss Angie how we miss you!  It is my hope that as we move through these unchartered waters of this pandemic, those in charge will realize that our pets have grooming needs that are essential to their health and well-being and we can once again be reunited with our dear Miss Angie.  Until then, I can be found standing with a doggy brush in my pocket ready to take down any tangle that dare try to make a home in Jellybean’s over-abundant fur coat.

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

Ode to the Birthday Girl!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little Jellybean!  Oh the joy she brings to my life!

Seems like the perfect day to celebrate with an acrostic written just for her.

JOYFUL

ENERGETIC

LOVING

LIVELY

Yes!  I’m here!

BEAUTIFUL

EFFERVESCENT

AMAZING

NAUGHTY little puppy!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

There’s A New Kid On the Block

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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! 

One Lucky Lady

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What an exciting time!  Back in July, I blogged about my latest children’s picture book endeavor as I prepared for the initial meeting with my illustrator in which we were to discuss my vision for the story.  A week ago I met again with the wonderfully talented Shana Morrow for a sneak peek at the sketches for the book, appropriately titled Jellybean’s Closet.  This simple little story finds Jellybean sitting by her closet every morning with a big decision to make.  “What to wear, what to wear!”  Being an avid weather watcher, Jellybean makes good use of the window in the front door to determine a suitable outfit for the day.  Days of the week, weather and appropriate clothing choices make this a great concept book for young children.  The repetitive pattern promotes immediate engagement in the story.  (Hmmm, perhaps I learned a little something along the way as a kindergarten teacher for twenty years!)  As Shana pulled sketch after sketch out of her folder and shared her thoughts on perspective and placement of items on the page, I could hardly contain myself.  Actually, if you know me, I do most of my dancing on the inside, and let me tell you there was some jitterbug, a little tap, and perhaps a tad of cha-cha going on! I am humbled by Shana’s talent and the way in which she is able to make my vision come to life.  Over the next two months Shana will work her magic with her watercolor pencils to make each illustration jump off the page.  Oh, what a lucky lady I am to have this opportunity to share my stories inspired by the little pup that I love so much.  I am looking forward to a late fall release of Jellybean’s Closet.  I can’t wait to share it with you!

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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! 

It’s A Paw-ty!

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What do you do when your fur baby turns five?  Well… you throw a paw-ty, a dog paw-ty!  Oh – you also donate some hand-sewn fleece crate mats to a local shelter in your puppy’s name.  At least that’s what this over the top pet momma has planned.  Jellybean woke up this morning to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.  After our morning walk, she had a blast ripping paper and opening boxes to discover what doggy toys, treats, and apparel awaited her.  Then we slipped into our usual morning grooming routine of brushing teeth, washing the area around her eyes, applying allergy eye drops, brushing her fur, and adding a colorful hair bow.  This morning, however, there was a special birthday shirt waiting for her.  For her birthday this year, she is wearing a Minnie Mouse t-shirt embellished with tulle pompoms along the bottom edge.  Spiffy!  There is more fun to come, however, as I have invited several of her little friends over for an evening of romping, rolling and running around the house.  It should be a dog gone fun time!

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And a fun time it was!  Just as I imagined, there were four dogs romping, rolling and running around the house.  The party consisted of Jellybean and her furry friends Josie, Kramer, and Oakley along with their respective pet parents.  They surprised Jellybean in that they came bearing gifts for the birthday girl; new squeaky toys and some scrumptious treats. The first few minutes of course were a bit crazy, but these four fast friends quickly settled down and began playing, checking out toys, exploring the house and checking in with us at the dinner table. It was a fun night, which we ended with a quick photo session.  The ladies tried unsuccessfully to round up all four pups into a central location so that we could snap a few pictures.  We finally decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them.  That being said, each of us grabbed our own little fur ball for a fun photo session.  As we speak, Jellybean is one paw-tied out puppy.  She is sound asleep on the living room floor, no doubt dreaming of romping with her friends and munching on some delicious treats!

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Happy Birthday my sweet little Jellybean!  Momma loves you!

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! 

It’s A Hard Knock Life

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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 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!

 

 

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!