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! 

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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!

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!

 

 

 

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?

Let It Snow!

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Watching Jellybean play in the snow is like watching a three-year old experiencing snow for the very first time.  She tentatively steps into it, jumping back as the cold snowflakes pack against her sensitive paw pads.  Curiosity gets the best of her, however, and she takes another step.  Soon she is leaning down, sniffing and tasting the snow.  The exuberant wagging of her tail tells me she likes what she sees and feels.  Naturally, this well-dressed dog is prepared for her outdoor snow adventure.  Bundled up in a winter jacket that zips on the top and has sleeves to keep her warm and dry, Jellybean is ready to take the plunge.  Into the snow she goes head first, not unlike a bulldozer, moving the snow out of her way.  She looks up, face covered in cold, wet, snow, gives a shake, and in she goes again.  Soon she is rolling across the yard creating her version of snow angels.  Next she chases snowballs that I throw to her.  Ahhhh…to be so free and full of joy!  Such is the life of this precious little puppy.