So Very Thankful

As the Thanksgiving holiday comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on how thankful I am to have this precious pup in my life.  Not only does she give me companionship and fill my heart with joy, Jellybean impacts others on a daily basis.  She provides a sense of security to my brother as he navigates a recent illness.  She is content to sit close to him so he can stroke her soft fur or entertain him with her silly antics.  Jellybean provides a sense of normalcy during this Pandemic to my elderly mother as she visits her “grandma” for a few hours out of the week.  Jellybean walks through the hallway of my mother’s apartment building carrying her lunchbox and upon arrival is quite happy to lounge in the chair across from her while my mother sits at her sewing machine working on her endless crafts.  Jellybean is always happy to oblige when an impromptu nap finds them snuggled together on the recliner.  A sleepover at “Aunt Mary” and “Uncle Dave’s” helps keep Jellybean’s separation anxiety in check as we adjust to all official therapy dog and author visits on hold.  It also provides some much needed distraction to the disappointment of life after retirement for my sister and brother-in-law in our stay at home Covid-ruled world.  In my neighborhood, we can walk our dogs together and maintain safe social distancing to ward off the feeling of isolation.  This was especially important during the early shut down phase of Covid-19.  Now it is even more important as we fear more of the same with the ever increasing number of positive cases.  My puppy is so many things to so many people.  I am beyond thankful and grateful to have her in my life and very proud that she is able to impact so many with her rambunctious, loving and selfless spirit.  Thank you Jellybean! 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Thought for the Day

“When the world around me is going crazy and I’m losing faith in humanity, I just have to take one look at my dog to know that good still exists.”

  • Quote found on Pinterest

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Twas the Night Before Halloween

Twas the night before Halloween, and all was so still, no witches in sight, yet the air had a chill. The pumpkins were carved and candy was bagged, yet something was missing, a lingering thought lagged.

With mama asleep on the other side of the bed, sweet dreams of her puppy rolling ‘round in her head. Jellybean was comfy on her blanket so soft, she snuggled and settled, her own dreams aloft.

When out of the bed she jumped up with a fright, “Oh, my goodness, it’s almost Halloween night!” Away to her closet she ran oh so fast, pulled open the door and stood there aghast.

The moon shone into the closet stuffed full; hoodies, sweaters, PJ’s, dresses with tulle. Oh what will I wear on Halloween night that will make a statement without giving a fright?

She rooted and dug and snuffed once or twice, then pulled out something pink both trendy and nice. With COVID 19 I can’t do a blessed thing, I’ll dress in my PJ’s and see what it brings.

All my visits cancelled! No therapy!  No schools! No sloppy kisses or hugs. There are so many rules. So pull out those PJ’s. Relax and just chill. Have a Happy Halloween! We’ll get through this – we will!

Happy Halloween 2020 from Jellybean!

Keep calm and stay fabulous!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

To be…witched or not to be. That is the question.

Halloween 2020 is only a week away. So just what costume will Jellybean come up with this year?

Minnie Mouse?

A clown?

Perhaps a ladybug?

Last year’s cow costume was quite cute!

It has been such a crazy year. Maybe that is why I have not dedicated the usual thought to this year’s Halloween costume. But then I have a little time left to ponder the situation. So… stay tuned. Halloween is only six days away.

The Naughty Little Puppy Strikes Again!

My first children’s picture book, Naughty Little Puppy, was inspired by my precocious little puppy’s tendency to run away with my “stuff.”  Although this book was published four years ago when Jellybean was a two-year old pup, my four-legged little bandit continues to lay claim to things that do not belong to her.  Now mind you, this dog has more toys than the average fur baby.  She has an entire basket of balls which encompass all sizes and textures, and even some that allow for the addition of treats.  She also has two large Longaberger laundry baskets piled high with dog toys that would make any canine chomp at the chance to play with just one of them.  Like the child who would rather play with the box than the new toy, Jellybean is always on the lookout for items that apparently bring a whole new level of excitement to her play. 

This week she discovered the dryer balls; felt-like balls that bounce around in the dryer and promote more efficient drying of clothing.  She is always in close proximity when I do my laundry.  She watches as I fold my jeans, t-shirts, towels, etc., waiting for the dryer sheet to fall free so she can roll all over it. We call this “freshening up.”  I try to keep a pretty close watch on the dryer balls, however, as I am thinking the material they are made of is not particularly pet friendly.  The king-sized deep pockets sheets I was folding were getting the best of me and before I knew what was happening, she lunged across the bed and latched on to one of the balls that dislodged itself from the pocket of the sheet as I worked to fold it. 

The next few minutes went something like this:

“Jellybean, I need you to drop that ball.  It does not belong to you.”

“Did you hear what I said Jellybean?  Drop that ball!”

“Jellybean, drop it!”

“Danielle Jellybean Stiffler Smith!  You better drop that dang dryer ball!”

“Are you laughing at me?”

“How did you get to be such a naughty little puppy!”

“Ep, ep!” (Somewhere along the line I read that dogs understand this command and will look at you and wait for direction.  Hah!)

“Come back here!  Don’t you take that ball and run away with it.”

And so it went for the next five minutes as I chased her down the hall, around the living room, through the dining room and finally back to the bedroom where the whole debacle began.  It ended as quickly as it had begun, because as predicted, the fuzzy material made its way into her throat and caused a tickle and cough.  When she dropped the ball I quickly reclaimed it.  After a short lecture about running away with my “stuff” I suggested she go get a drink at her fountain so she could wash the fuzzy away.  With her big, black eyes now all watery from the coughing spell, she looked at me and I’m positive she gave a little nod of her head before jumping off the bed and making her way down the hall to her water fountain. 

Oh my, Jellybean, whatever am I going to do with you?  I guess I’m just going to have to love you even more!  As I often tell the children I meet through author visits and book events, unconditional love is simply the best!   

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

The Rule of Three

As human beings, we process information through patterns of recognition. The rule of three has long been used as a strategy for communication.  Simply put, it is easy to remember things in sets of three.  You see this quite often in advertising.  “Just do it!” is recognized world-wide as the slogan for Nike.  “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” conjures up the image of three little guys pouring a big bowl of Rice Krispies cereal.  “Finger lickin’ good” has derailed some of the best-laid plans for making dinner at home.  Why make your own chicken when you can buy a bucket of original, crispy or extra crispy at Kentucky Fried Chicken?   These are powerful three-word slogans that bring immediate recognition to a product.  In children’s literature, you often see the rule of three represented by the main characters in the story, for instance; The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears,  and Three Little Kittens to name a few.  We even organize our story lines using the rule of three by breaking it down into beginning, middle and end.

We could go on forever relating the rule of three to math, science, religion, and theater to name a few.  Allow me to get to the point.  My question is this.  How does Jellybean, my precocious little pup, know about the rule of three?  I ask myself this every time I pick up her bowl to place it in the dishwasher.  I pick up her bowl three times a day, as I divide her daily ration of crunchies into thirds.  There are always three little balls of kibble that have been left behind.  Sometimes all three are in the bowl.  Sometimes two are in and one is on the mat or one is in and two are out.  Sometimes all three are on the floor by the bowl.  What is up with that?  Is this just a random quirk? Is it some sort of canine attempt for Jellybean to write her own story?  If that’s the case, what would the story be titled?  Here are some thoughts; Jellybean and the Three Bits of Kibble or Three Balls and an Otherwise Empty Bowl.  How about The Three Lonely Bits of Kibble?  Does your favorite four-legged friend have any interesting quirks that are repeated over and over again?  Surely Jellybean does not stand alone. 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith Children’s Author

The Name Game

It has long been a tradition to give “pet” names to those we love.  My Jellybean is no exception.  But seriously folks, how does one little pup have so many different monikers? 

I suppose the name I chose for her makes it rather easy to play off of it.  When we are out doing therapy and author visits we are formal and use “Jellybean.”  However, in more relaxed situations she readily responds to some natural variations of that name; Bean, Beaner, Beanie, Beanie Weanie, Jellybelly, Jelly, and the new favorite of the little boy I babysit is simply “Jell.” 

An endearment I often hear my sister use is “Punkin.”  I find myself calling her “my little chubba wubba” during snuggle sessions.  Another new favorite of Jellybean’s best bud, who is closing in on three years old, is “Raspberry.” This one was created right after he assisted in making his own PBJ sandwich and Jellybean was circling the counter waiting for any residual peanut butter or jelly to find its way to the floor.  He looked down at her and said “No thank you “Raspberry” this is my PBJ.” Naturally, a gigglefest befitting a toddler ensued. Then, of course, there is the very formal “Danielle Jellybean Stiffler Smith!”  Did you notice the exclamation mark?  This formality is best used when I walk into the bathroom and find tissues shredded all over the floor.  The conversation goes something like this, “Danielle Jellybean Stiffler Smith come in here! What is this mess?  Did you do this?” 

Can you relate to the name game?  If so, what moniker or monikers – no doubt there is more than one – have you bestowed upon your favorite four-legged friend? 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

For the Love of Dog

IMG_6459

Today is National Dog Day.  Here’s a shout out to my favorite four-legged friend, Jellybean, stick collector extraordinaire and all around love bug. Thanks to her best bud, Jay, for taking the time to add some pizzazz to her stick collection by stringing beaded necklaces for this special celebration.

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Does She Love Me?

pic for Does She Love Me - 2

Yet another sleepless night of tossing and turning and I did exactly what “they” tell you not to do.  You know the whole spiel about how blue light interferes with your sleep and you shouldn’t use your electronics hours before bedtime or during those times when you have difficulty sleeping?  I decided to live on the wild side and reached for my phone to begin perusing Facebook.  I scrolled past the predictably negative political posts and chuckled at a few cute memes posted by teachers trying to find the humor in returning to school with all the new Covid-19 restrictions in place.  As a retired kindergarten teacher myself, I can certainly appreciate their point of view.  Seriously, if you don’t laugh about it, you most certainly are going to cry.  I belong to several dog lover groups and was drawn in by one post in particular.  This offering listed different ways your four-legged furry best friend can show you that it truly loves you.  I glanced over at Jellybean, who was sound asleep, stretched out as far as her body would allow with all four paws up in the air.  I whispered to myself, “Well, Jellybean, let’s find out.  Do you love your mama?”

Apparently if your dog follows you everywhere, including into the bathroom, your dog is telling you that it loves you and wants to always be by your side.  Woohoo!  I get a star for that one.  Jellybean is my constant companion around the house.  If I am in the kitchen, she is curled up in the corner just out of the way of my shuffling feet, but close enough to catch any crumbs that may come her way.  If I am working at my desk, she is lying under it. If I am doing the laundry, she is stretched out in the hallway several feet away.  As an iced tea-aholic, I begin each morning by heading down the stairs to the refrigerator to pour my first glass of tea for the day.  Although she doesn’t make a sound, when I close the refrigerator door, there sits Jellybean looking up at me with those big puppy dog eyes.  I always laugh and call her my little “Chucky” in reference to the doll that always seemed to appear out of nowhere?  I’m giving Jellybean an A+ on this one.  She surely fits the bill for me and my shadow.

This post also mentioned that if you are not feeling well, your dog will hover near you and lie quietly, seemingly understanding that now is not the time for rambunctious behavior, rather quiet and calm.  Dogs have a natural tendency to want to protect those they love.  As descendants of wolves, they are natural pack animals and have that innate sense to protect.  I rarely get sick, but I have noticed that Jellybean seems to sense if I am tired or just need some quiet time.  She is content to settle in next to me or on the floor by my feet.

 

Often times, dogs want to cuddle after meals.  It is a way to show their appreciation and understanding that literally you are the hand that feeds them.  This is not a black and white situation for Jellybean.  After her dinner she will not rest until she receives her after dinner treat.  There is crying, begging, puppy dog eyes and outright pouting until the dishes have been cleared, leftovers packed away and the dishwasher doing its thing.  After that she receives her treat, although I generally have her work a little bit for it.  Granted, this is mostly for my own entertainment.  Her newest trick is the “shimmy”, which others may call the army crawl.  I found, however, that ‘crawl’ and ‘roll’ sound too much alike for her and she was rolling around like a wayward hot dog that fell out of its’ bun.  So I changed the command to shimmy.  She now successfully shimmies across the living room floor in anticipation of her special treat.  Does she cuddle with me after meal time?  No, but most definitely after she has had her “dessert”.

 

If your dog sleeps in bed with you, it is another way to show its love.  Again this goes back to the evolution from pack animals.  There is safety in numbers.  Jellybean gets a big star for this one, although when I first brought her home at three months old, I swore I would not allow her in my bed.  Yeah right.  That lasted one night.  Right before I turn out the light each night, I call Jellybean over to me.  We snuggle and she looks right into my eyes as we talk about our day and any upcoming events for the next day.  I love how she wags her tail or gives me a kiss when I mention certain people’s names.  Aunt Mary, Uncle Dave, Uncle Bob, Grandma and Aunt Michele always get a big response.  When I tell her that our little Jaybird will be coming the next day, her tail begins to wag back and forth and she usually digs into the sheets and gives a few snoofs to show her excitement.  Although I must say Miss Angie, her groomer, gets the biggest reaction of all when I tell her the next day she is scheduled for a bath and a haircut.  She literally jumps up and kisses me all over my face and digs and scratches at the sheets as if she is digging for gold.

 

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Jellybean has a bit of separation anxiety.  I have discovered over the years that if Jellybean is able to watch my car back out of the garage and actually see me leave she does much better.  I have even gone so far as to drive my car around the corner and park in a guest spot in our condo community so that I am able to take a productive walk in my quest to meet my daily steps.  It is said that if a dog sits by a window and awaits your return that demonstrates love and trust.  Score!

 

Licking your face, or as I like to call it, giving “sloppy kisses” and sharing doggy toys with you is another sign that your best friend really does love you.  Once again, it all goes back to the pack.  Those “wolfly” ancestors really knew what they were doing by taking care of each other, licking the wounds of injured members of the family and showing love to their offspring by licking and “snoofing” them.  Who doesn’t enjoy having their pup drop a beloved toy at your feet as a sign they are yearning for some good old-fashioned playtime.  Check and check for Jellybean, as there are sloppy kisses a plenty and frequent games of fetch the stuffed pizza toy.

 

Did you know that a dog copying your actions is a sign that your pup really adores you?  Try it sometime.  Look at your dog and give out a big wide yawn.  Bets are on that your dog will do the same thing. Sometimes Jellybean and I seem to be having a yawning contest to see who can put out the longest and loudest.  This one has me thinking, because I know this happens often with Jellybean, not only yawning, but also sneezing.  So, when I sneeze and then Jellybean sneezes and I sneeze again and she sneezes again, that really means that she loves me and is not just suffering from the same whiff of pollen that I just took in?  Well alrighty then!

 

And lastly, if your dog is happy to see you when you arrive home that surely is a sign your dog loves you.  I call dibs on this one.  I always take a peek at the front window as I drive up the street and pull into the garage.  I can easily see Jellybean standing on the guest bed awaiting my arrival, tail wagging full speed.  By the time I park the car and enter through the hallway door, Jellybean is racing and skidding up and down the wooden floor, jumping with all four feet off the floor in her attempt to give me kisses, all the while a favorite toy clenched tightly in her mouth. I generally plop on the comfy chair and await her welcome.  Let me tell you, for a little dog, she sure can make an entrance.  She runs full speed toward me, jumps up, dropping the toy in mid-air and lands right in my lap.  I spend the next several minutes on the receiving end of a love session so full of sloppy kisses that my heart is about ready to burst.

 

Does my puppy love me?  Oh yes, just let me count the ways!

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Who Put Baby In The Corner?

IMG_6161 (2)

One evening I stepped out onto the deck just long enough to replace the grill cover after a delicious dinner of foil packet chicken and potatoes.  I returned, only to discover Jellybean had put herself in the corner.  She was looking mighty suspicious.  Those big soulful eyes of hers were downcast and her little doggy smile had turned itself upside down.  As a matter of fact, she was sporting a full-fledged four-legged canine frown.  I looked at her and said “Uh-oh, what did you do?”  She continued to look up at me with those sad eyes as if she had just committed the crime of the century and in dog years that is pretty significant.  Let the interrogation begin!

“Jellybean, what did you do?”

“Did you get in the bathroom waste basket?”

Nope!

“Did you take something that does not belong to you?”

Nope!

“Did you have an accident?”  (I don’t know why I even thought to ask that question.  Jellybean is six years old and has only ever had two accidents in the house.  Both were when she was still a young puppy.)

That would be a nope!

“Did you find the bag of treats on the coffee table?”

Nope!

Each question – and yes, I really did ask, because that is how we roll – was met with a solemn look and eyes that just seemed to get sadder with each question I asked.  Assured that the house was in order, I picked her up and carried her to the sofa for a little snuggle session.  I rubbed her belly and tickled her favorite spot under her chin, then gave her a big giant hug followed by a rousing session of our favorite song;  the Barney theme song.  She joined in by pawing the air at just the right time as I sang “with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love..me..too?”  Our snuggle session now over, Jellybean jumped out of my lap, ran to her toy basket to find Mr. Hedgehog, then zipped around the living room squeaking and tossing the toy all around.  Hmm!  Did I just get played?  Was all that pouting and puppy dog eyes just a ploy to get some extra loving from her mama?  Indeed!  Wait a minute, did she just wink at me?

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author