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!

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Halloween Quandary

Jellybean - Halloween quandary 5

Another Halloween is upon us, which means another quandary for me.  What costume will Jellybean wear this year?  In previous years she has been dressed as Minnie Mouse as well as a cute little lady bug.  Both costumes were darn cute if I must say so myself.  And only as Jellybean can, she sashays and struts around showing off her tutu, wings, or whatever the current ensemble might be.  She is quite incredibly the most accommodating dog ever.  I say accommodating because the costumes are really all about me.  It’s not like she marks her calendar each year and starts shopping for outfits.  I get the biggest kick out of seeing people smile when they see her all decked out.   So…back to my quandary for this year.  We will be participating in two Trunk or Treat events, a costume contest at doggie daycare, as well as Trick or Treat night in our neighborhood.  Obviously, she needs a costume that makes her look super cute.  It is well-known that I tend to overthink things that pertain to my precious little pup.  Reading over my notes for this particular blog, even I have to admit that the time and effort I put into the hunt for her annual Halloween costume is a bit over the top.  It goes something like this:

  1. Spend hours on Pinterest looking for ideas to spark your creative side.
  2. Narrow the search to three or four possibilities that stand out.
  3. Bingo! This year Jellybean will be a clown!
  4. Head back to Pinterest and peruse a few more clown costumes.
  5. Next, go to Amazon and begin a search for a toddler-sized tutu.
  6. Once the tutu has been chosen, begin a search for toddler-sized suspenders.
  7. Submit the order.
  8. Once the items have arrived, place them in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  9. Now head to the local craft store and search for a brightly colored toddler-sized Tee shirt, 3T to be exact.
  • Purchase the Tee and place it in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  1. Take advantage of someone who is an expert on the sewing machine. In this case it would be my mother.
  2. Discuss the possibility of making a clown collar out of colorful fabric.
  3. Take a trip together to the local fabric store to find just the right fabric that will coordinate with the tutu.
  4. Purchase the fabric.
  5. Send it home with your favorite seamstress, who by the way would do anything for her grand dog.
  6. While waiting for the clown collar to be sewn, go back to Pinterest and start looking for ideas to decorate the car for Trunk or Treat with a circus/clown theme.
  7. After making some notes as to the items needed, head to your local party store and purchase said items. Once again, place the items in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  8. Don’t forget to purchase the candy and treats needed to hand out at the various events.
  9. At this point, Jellybean’s closet is a bit too full, so store the candy and treats in a large bin in the garage.

20.Pick up the collar when finished.

  1. Go home, retrieve all items from Jellybean’s closet and have a dress rehearsal.
  2. Looking at this adorable get-up, you realize the next decision is to decide what to do with her hair.
  3. Knowing that this particular puppy will not wear a hat, unless she is riding in the car, determine that a mix of colorful curly ribbon barrettes will be a good option for clown hair. At least these will stay in place for the duration of the event.
  4. One last dress rehearsal is in order before the events, this one with the car fully decorated.
  5. Be sure to take several pictures. These are needed of course for bragging opportunities.
  6. Place all items back in Jellybean’s closet until needed.
  7. You are now ready for Halloween 2018!

Whew!  That was a lot of work.  But you’ve got to admit that Jellybean has got to be the cutest Halloween clown ever!  Well….at least this over the top pet parent thinks so!

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 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.

 

 

Naughty Little Puppy

Who needs a 130 sheet cross-cut shredder when you have a spunky little puppy that can take care of all your shredding needs?  This white and black model shreds paper of all types; copy paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tissues (both clean and otherwise), magazines, cardboard, and yes, even the paper label around plastic water bottles.  Leave a tissue behind on the couch?  Leave the newspaper on the chair while you refill your tea?  Walk away from your Ladies Home Journal magazine?  Forget to put your water bottle in the recycling bin?  Never fear, Jellybean the shredder is here!  Moving faster than the community shred truck, Jellybean hones in on the treasure of the moment. Using her front paws to keep the object secure, Jellybean, begins pulling and tearing at her prize.  Pull, tear, spit!  Pull, tear, spit! Pull, tear, spit!  She continues until the object has been obliterated and strewn all over the floor.  Satisfied that her work has been completed to the best of her ability, Jellybean stands proudly amid the mess.

Not only is this rambunctious puppy a shredder, she is also a taker.  She takes things that do not belong to her; shoes, socks, gloves to name a few items.  Her tendency to stake claim on my personal items developed very early in life.  It amused me so much that it actually became the inspiration for my first children’s picture book, titled – are you ready?  Naughty Little Puppy.  It’s not a very original title, but quite a true representation of Jellybean, my precocious, yet lovable, albeit naughty little fur ball.  The repetitive text and short, structured sentences, make it the perfect book for the 3-5 year old crowd.  I should mention that my illustrator, Shana Morrow, did an incredible job of capturing Jellybean’s personality through her artistic rendering of Jellybean.  You can see me for a signed copy or purchase a copy at Amazon.com .

The Carrying Dog

One of the first character traits I noticed about Jellybean is that she loves to carry things, especially when we are out walking.  She proudly prances around the neighborhood, tail held high, with her latest treasure clenched tightly between her teeth.  There is not a stick, pinecone, golf ball or water bottle that goes unnoticed.  Upon spying the treasure of the moment, Jellybean stops in mid-step, her tail goes up and her head tilts side to side as she determines whether the object is worthy of her time.  She then cautiously approaches, sniffing and nudging.  If the object does meet the standards set by many puppies before her, there is an immediate frenzy as she pounces and lays claim to her bounty.  After spending a few minutes playing and rolling in the grass with her latest conquest, she is ready to carry it home and add it to her collection.  How many puppies do you know that have collected so many sticks that the pet parent has dedicated a crock to hold the ever growing collection that is proudly brought into the house.  And wait for it…it then becomes her personal Christmas tree, decorated with colorful beads, doggie bones, and the menagerie of objects gathered from neighborhood walks.  If no objects can be found on the walk, Jellybean then turns to me to see what is available.  The umbrella tucked under my arm, just in case of rain…it’s been done.  My mitten…grabbed right off my hand.  Her bag-o-poop…you guessed it.  She simply loves to carry things.  Treasure clenched tightly between her teeth, she prances proudly, eyes forward and tail up as she heads home to add the latest and greatest to her ever growing collection.  Have I mentioned how much I love my little carrying dog?

The Search

Jellybean - the search

I’m not exactly sure when I decided I was lonely, but all of a sudden it was all I thought about.  Although I have wonderful family and friends with whom I share my life, after 11 years of widow-hood, there was a glaring emptiness when I came home at the end of the day.  And so the search began.  My evenings were spent on the laptop, searching for puppies.  Not any puppy, however, it had to be hypoallergenic and non-shedding because of my allergies.  I also knew I wanted a small dog, because I wanted to snuggle and I wanted my dog to be the best dressed in the neighborhood.  Small dogs look so darn cute wearing sweaters, hoodies, and puppy pj’s.  As I googled hypoallergenic, non-shedding puppies, I was amazed at the variety of breeds available and waiting to find their forever homes.  And then, one Friday night in early July, I found her; a little Shichon puppy.  Her picture showed a chubby little puppy with fluffy black and white fur.  With black patches around her eyes, she looked like a little panda bear.  I fell in love with her right there.  I made the phone call and two weeks later I brought my little Jellybean to her forever home and life has never been the same.