Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve Raccoon

I walk Rose daily around 9:55 PM. Halfway up and down the cul-de-sac. This is our routine. Every night, I feed Rose a spoonful of pumpkin, then walk her. Our agenda is for Rose to urinate one last time before bed. Although sometimes she does not go. Oh well!! We have witnessed some interesting wildlife on our nightly strolls. I am wary of these creatures, as though they are mass murderers, because Rose's "hunting" skills cannot be trusted!! How will my Beagle/German Shepherd cross react if she faced an aggressive rabid opossum? Fight or flight? Would she allow some wild animal to brutally tear her apart? Honestly.... These queries are best left unanswered!! So I attempt to protect Rose.... Whenever possible. About one year ago, on January 31st, 2010, we were embarking on our evening stroll. When I noticed something moseying about in our neighbor's side lawn. Obviously, night had befallen. Everything was dark. Minus one bright streetlight. So I could hardly see anything!! Meanwhile, Rose was literally face-to-face with this mysterious creature. At first I thought that we encountered a neighbor's feline. Until I could vaguely recognize "his" body figure. Short and fat. A bushy tail. Four stubby legs. Gasp!! A raccoon!! Suddenly, sans any warning, my protective maternal instinct kicked into full gear!! Seriously!! I yanked Rose back, probably a little too hard. But this was an unsettling experience!! What can I say? My baby was face-to-face with a raccoon!! We must have scared "him". For "he" waddled away across the street as fast as "his" stubby legs could move!! It was then when I could finally see. Sort of. It was "his" gait that gave "him" away. Slow and leisurely. Not swift, or graceful like your typical cat!! What a thrilling, yet startling surprise this was!! I am so grateful that Rose was not attacked by our "New Year's Eve raccoon"!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rose's "Second" Christmas

So yesterday was December 25th. Rose's second Christmas with me!! As early as possible, I pulled her red and white velvet stocking off its nail. Until yesterday morning, this holiday item hung vacant upon my bedroom wall. I found Rose's treats and plush toys. I swiftly stuffed her stocking until it bulged. Literally. I love filling Christmas stockings!! I purchased Rose some Milo's Kitchen chicken jerky, bacon & cheese flavored Beggin' Strips, plus the "Cinnabone" dog biscuits. My Beagle/German Shepherd cross' toys were a plush baby blue puppy. Uncle Michael named "her" Rose. A plush golden-colored monkey. I named "him" Curious George. And a plush pink kitten. I named "her" after my childhood feline, Sugar. With much enthusiasm, I presented the fuzzy stocking to Rose. Like a small child, she was excited!! Seriously. Usually excitement brings about high-pitched baying. But not this time!! Rose shadowed my every step, and became a little jumpy, instead!! I pulled out the Beggin' Strips. Yes, I understand that this was probably not my healthiest choice of treats to buy, but.... It is Christmas. We all receive "junk" food on December 25th around here!! I bent the Beggin' Strips in half. They are long and Rose does not need an entire piece!! Next I pulled out the chicken jerky. They were also cut in long strips, so I broke one. Or I attempted to, at least!! This chicken jerky was tough!! So Rose received two small pieces of it. Then, one by one, I pulled out her toys. I forgot to cut off their tags, however!! Oops!! So after quickly cutting off their tags, Rose was given one. Then another. Then another. Rose must have thought that she died and went to Heaven!! For I give her more presents on Christmas morning than our anniversaries!! My mongrel's favorite toy was the puppy. Initially. She plays with all three!! Lastly, I fed her at 8:00 AM. Finally, I gave Rose a candy cane shaped home-baked biscuit!! My "hound" of course, appreciated all my hard work in making those holiday treats!! She ran through our house with it, rolled on the candy cane, then ingested her "Cinnabone"!! Silly puppy!! I later found a small piece of something tan near my girl's ear. What is that? I wondered. It was a part of her candy cane biscuit!! Caked to my dog's fur!! Ah, the predicaments she gets me in....

Merry Christmas, Rose!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Honey "Christmas" Treats

The other day, I baked Rose some dog biscuits. For her Christmas stocking. It was the final thing on my holiday to-do list. Other than "bagging" up everyone's presents, which, traditionally, I always partake in on Christmas Eve!! Helps pass the time.... Now Rose will receive two gifts of treats, three plush toys, plus these crunchy biscuits!! Wow. Her fuzzy red stocking will be bulging.... The cookbook where I found this recipe also, of course, contains something specifically meant for Christmas. It is entitled "Santa Paws". Nonetheless, we were lacking in two things for that recipe: An ingredient.... And money. But then, an idea surfaced within my mind: Bake Rose something sweet!! Every December 25th, we all receive sugar-laden junk food--chocolate--which she cannot even have!! Why leave poor Rose out on some of the fun? Plus, I purchased some adorable holiday cookie cutter shapes: Candy cane, gingerbread man, Christmas tree, snowman, gingerbread woman, and stocking!! So I made these treats into Christmas biscuits!! Here is the recipe:

(These biscuits taste like honey.... I think they wrongly named this recipe!!)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
(We substituted wheat flour with white flour, because I heard that too much wheat can effect a dog's digestive system?)
1/2 cup brewer's yeast
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together honey, molasses, oil, milk and cinnamon. Gradually add flour, yeast, and wheat germ.
(I never follow the "gradually" rule when baking.... Oh well!! Everything stirs together alright anyway!!) Roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into bone (Or Christmas!!) shapes. Bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes (We did 15 minutes, but not all ovens were created equal!!) or until bottoms are brown. Makes 1 1/2 dozen. (We made 14--two of each shape, plus a couple extra candy canes!! And.... A round "cookie" that I used with the leftover dough!!)
Bake bones on the middle oven rack. If your dough is sticky, apply a light layer of flour to your hands, the rolling surface and rolling pin. Because of variations in oven temperatures, monitor the cooking time for your batch of "Doggy Bones". Bake bones until the bottoms of the biscuits become medium brown, and adjust remaining baking times accordingly. If bones do not become "bone hard", bake bones for an additional five minutes or leave them in the oven as it cools. Store "Doggy Bones" in an airtight container. For extended supply, double your batch and freeze them!

As I began searching for the ingredients we would need--alongside Uncle Michael--Rose ran through our great room, a toy within her mouth. She wanted playtime!! "Not now, Rose...." I said. This happens nearly every time. I am doing something with Uncle Michael, my brother, and little miss "Jealousy, thy name is Rose" desires all the attention!! It's cute.... In such cases, we always smile, and let her win!! But not this time. We had treats to mix up and bake. Rose's biscuits!! So my "neglected" girl had to play by herself.... She rolls on the toys whenever I cannot interact!! Rose does have Attention Deficit Disorder, however!! While I stirred our ingredients together she appeared into the kitchen, curious. So I allowed Rose a tiny taste of her treats' dough. My Beagle mix loved it!! Keeping these biscuits put away until Christmas morning was difficult. At first!! The second I pulled them out of our oven, Rose looked up at me with those pleading eyes of hers that I know so well. She wanted a sample!! How can you say no to that? It turned out that one of our gingerbread men broke his right leg, so I gave her him. By the way? Rose rates this recipe Four 'paws' way, way up!!

Merry Christmas, Readers!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sleep In Heavenly Peace

I love to sing!! And hum. While sitting on my bed, stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur, I often find myself singing some Christmas songs this time of year. "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". "What Child Is This?". "Jingle Bells". Whatever comes to mind. But the carol which appears within my head the most during such moments, is "Silent Night"!! No idea why. Probably its lovely, soft melody.... So, as I pet Rose, my vocal chords hum "Silent Night's" tune. Or I sing its words. Either way. Somehow, "Silent Night" has become Rose's Christmas song!! Whenever I hear this carol, it reminds me of my beautifully unique mongrel!! Instantaneously. Which has brought countless smiles to my face.... Such a sweet thought.... So, to be festive, since Christmas is six days away, I thought I'd post the lyrics to "Rose's carol"!!

Silent Night
Composed by Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr
Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm all is bright;
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child;
Holy Infant so tender and mild;
Sleep in Heavenly Peace,
Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

And, as I hum or sing this Christmas carol, Rose snoozes away!! "Sleep in Heavenly peace", girl. "Sleep in Heavenly peace"....

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Mixed Breed Resource

Earlier this year, I was browsing the "pets" isles in our city's largest bookstore. It is located several miles away from where we reside, so I seldom shop there. I came across this book, entitled: "Mutts: America's Dogs", written by Brian Kilcommons and Michael Capuzzo. I flipped through its pages. I already own a book on mixed breeds. Did I really need another? But I was thrilled by this finding. Brian Kilcommons is a nationally-renown animal behaviorist/trainer. I own two of his books. I never knew that he co-wrote something about mongrels!! And.... This book is different. Honestly. It is nothing like my other mixed breed book!! Nothing. "Mutts: America's Dogs" not only celebrates every mixed breed canine, but it also offers wisdom, plus insight on which beautifully unique creature best suits your lifestyle!! It covers known crossbreeds. It covers "Mystery Dogs". Now is there a "one-size-fits-all" with mongrels? Never!! Example: One Border Collie cross can be hyperactive. ADHD. Another laid-back. "Mutts: America's Dogs" features both heart-warming, and heart-breaking stories about true canines!! It is honest, hilarious, poignant!! And, of course, "Mutts: America's Dogs" provides special training tips, as well!! To quote a blurb on the book's back cover: "Brian and Mike make mixed-breed dog owners proud of their mutts. Through their comprehensive, creative, and very amusing descriptions, the prospective adopter will learn a wealth of information about every imaginable 'breed' of mutt. Brian and Mike have made the thousands of homeless dogs in animal shelters stars. Any adoptive pet owner must read this book before deciding on which mutt to adopt." ~Jane M. Stern, executive director, The Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago. Well said. Plus, within this book's pages is a picture. Of an adorable hound mix. Tail curled, ears perked.... Just like Rose!! On its page are various notes. "Mischievous eyes--if you can catch me you can have my toy." "Large ears to hear refrigerator door opening from anywhere in the house." "Big nose--anything, anytime, anywhere." "Long legs for taking journeys whenever possible." Yep.... Every part of those notes describe Rose!! Purchase "Mutts: America's Dogs". It is a wonderful mixed breed resource!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Rose Elizabeth!!"

Readers: Apparently, I am in sort of a blogging "funk". Is that contagious? A "non-dog" blog author whose site I visit, recently stated the same complaint!! Ah, writer's block. I suppose when you type stories, insights, feelings, plus opinions twice a week, that is bound to happen sometime!! Sigh.... Well, I am in the mood for a "bad dog" story about Rose.... Here goes.

Every morning for breakfast, Uncle Michael eats twain slices of buttered sourdough bread, plus a strawberry yogurt. On our great room carpet. This is one of Rose's favorite moments!! A chance to spy on poor Uncle Michael while he ingests his breakfast. An opportunity for begging. A chance to lick up any bread crumbs which inevitably fall.... And, best of all, an opportunity for stealing Uncle Michael's toast "crusts" off his plate when he is not looking!! Sneaky, sneaky.... None of these activities are allowed. And Rose knows this fact far too well!! She and I spend mornings together on "our" bed. While I read the daily newspaper, drink orange juice, and engross myself in books. However, when Uncle Michael is eating, Rose prefers to watch him!! She awaits patiently for crumbs, or abandoned buttery bread "crusts". Uncle Michael is usually quite good at remembering to remove his white plate from the carpet. But every now and then.... One morning, I was emptying/filling our dishwasher. I knew in advance that Uncle Michael's breakfast plate still lie on the great room floor. Forgotten. Usually in cases like this, I take care of the plate myself to avoid Rose's thievery. Seriously. She does not need the extra carbohydrates and oily butter!! But I didn't. For reasons beyond my own comprehension, I thought Rose could resist such a temptation. What was I thinking? Rose? My "Living Breathing Vacuum"? The "Mongrel-Hound" with an amazing love affair toward food? My "Little Beggar"? Rose? Avoid temptation? Really?! What on Earth was I thinking? My head must have been groggy that morning, with all common sense emptied out!! I turned around, and glanced through our French doors toward the great room. Where was Rose? Wolfing down the toast "crusts", and licking Uncle Michael's plate "clean"!! For whatever reason, this all-too-common scene shocked me!! Why? Because mentally, I was certain that Rose could resist temptation!! So my reaction was not very ideal. It was just that. A reaction. I did not scold "Bad dog!!", because this isn't my training style. I never gave Rose a firm "No!!". I did not even shout: "Hey, hey, hey!!", which, for reasons beyond my comprehension work on her. No. I yelled, in a rather shocked tone, "Rose Elizabeth!!" Using my Beagle/German Shepherd's middle name also seemingly works wonders. As does keeping a firm tone of voice. Immediately, sans hesitation, Rose ducked away. "Go to bed." I gently commanded. She did.... Licking butter off her paws. Honestly? My naughty girl looked way too pleased with herself....

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Drastic Change

What did I accomplish today? Well.... For a few weeks I have wanted to make some changes on this blog. But how? Search for a new background? No. I like my blog's background!! It is pretty, whimsical, cheery.... So I made a few adjustments.... At first. I added to the header. I discovered a lovely quote about being different. Typed that onto my blog's sidebar. I "decorated" it for Christmas. Good enough.... Right? Not exactly. Earlier this afternoon, on a whim, I took to the notion that my blog's "title" should change!! To "Beautifully Unique". Now that is a drastic change!! Which, honestly, I was quite nervous about partaking in.... As if doing so would be permanent, with no looking back. But the new header swiftly grew on me.... I love it!! "Beautifully Unique". Like every human being. No one is ordinary, able or handicapped."Beautifully Unique". Like every mixed breed canine. In the world. Especially "Mystery Dogs" and "Oops Babies". Like Rose. A Beagle/German Shepherd cross. My "Big Dog/Medium Dog". A "Shepherd-Hound". The "title" fits. Works. Bodes well with life. Readers can still find my site at That much has not changed. Just the header. Now, my blog has sort of a "unique" theme to it. Yep. Standing out and being different is a positive thing. And, as I have struggled mightily with this very issue, hopefully my perspective will change, as well. I am "Beautifully Unique", too....

Monday, December 5, 2011

National Mutt Day

It was Friday, December 2nd. I went about my usual morning routine: Woke up, let the cat outside, checked e-mail, read people's "dog blogs". Rose was sleeping peacefully on her comically-sized pillow in "our" bedroom. My "Lazy Bones" never wants to get up each morning.... I was groggy, and half-asleep, as I'm still fighting a head cold. Then.... I saw it!! A photograph box on the internet homepage's sidebar.... Of this mixed breed!! What's that about? I wondered. It contained an article on "hybrid" dogs. Out of curiosity, I clicked the story. And it taught me something!! December 2nd is National Mutt Day!! I was thrilled. Seriously? Today is National Mutt Day? There's an actual National Mutt Day? I thought. Yep. And, according to some online research, there is even a Web site, It was funded in 2005 by Pet Expert and Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Paige. The Web site is fantastic!! National Mutt Day embraces, rescues and celebrates mixed breed canines!! Its mascot is Tyler, a suspected four-year old hound/Pointer mix. He's owned by actress Charlotte Ross. National Mutt Day encourages everyone to adopt a mixed breed dog on December 2nd. I visited my local Humane Society's Web site earlier this afternoon. It was filled with picture after picture after picture of homeless mixed breeds!! National Mutt Day suggests volunteering at any local shelter. Be a dog walker, perhaps? National Mutt Day encourages people to donate toward local shelters on December 2nd. They suggested only $5.00, but anybody can give more!! Or donate food and other supplies to local shelters. They are oft in need of such simple items. Like toys or dog beds. National Mutt Day even suggests that grieving owners donate in the name of a beloved lost mongrel!! Wow.... What wonderful ideas!! Well to me, December 2nd is now a holiday of the sorts!! I have it written on my calendar!! Any reason for celebration, I say!! I attended a large Christmas bazaar, with 1,000 booths that day. Among them, was this table selling locally-baked, thin organic dog biscuits. They came in three flavors. I bought Rose some peanut butter treats. My Beagle mix, of course loves them!! So we celebrated National Mutt Day in the most appropriate way possible to Rose: With food!! Yum.... Rose is the best mixed breed canine that I have ever had!! I cannot express this nearly enough. I could shout it on our rooftops!! Somehow, I love her more than any dog that I have ever known. Honestly!! Rose is beautifully unique.... As are all mixed breeds!! I am glad we have a day to set aside and celebrate mongrels!! They certainly deserve it!! And as a tall, short-haired, lanky volunteer at the Christmas bazaar's Humane Society's booth said: "Every day is a day to celebrate mutts!!" Agreed!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Christmas Ornament

Readers: A cold germ is going around over here, and, unfortunately, I have caught it. Sigh.... And I am not quite recovered yet from my calf/ankle/foot injury!! What else can go wrong? Hopefully, this blog post will not be foggy.... Like my head!!

I always think about and remember Shadow Sunshine, my beautifully unique "blond" furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross at Christmastime. She was euthanized on June 15th, 2010. I have an entire decade worth of memories filling her stocking, purchasing treats and dog toys, celebrating December 25th with my mixed breed. I recall as though it was yesterday our final Christmas together. Shadow had been showing tell-tale signs of aging: Deafness, stiff joints, senile behavior. I somehow knew within my heart that this would be our last. So I took complete advantage of it. Shadow no longer played.... Spending money on tennis balls seemed useless. Instead, I filled her stocking with treats. Nothing else. She ingested each treat. Less than six months later, Shadow died. I was right. My intuition did not steer me wrong. Last Christmas, three months after adopting Rose, I was struggling with grief. It came upon me suddenly, like an ambush during some war. This was a Christmas of colossal firsts: My first with Rose. Our first sans Shadow. I had bought Rose a fuzzy red and white Christmas stocking. Purchased her gifts. Yet somehow, the memory of Shadow's last Christmas haunted me. I missed her so much!! It felt selfish and wrong to be experiencing such an intense longing for Shadow.... When I have Rose!! Honestly.... But I could not help myself. There were tears, sorrow, plus heartache. We drove downtown to do some shopping during that time, and I was really depressed. I wept in an antique shop. While looking at merchandise. Snuck off to a Jack-In-The-Box restroom during lunch to compose myself. Then, we discovered this quaint little store. It was decorated for Christmas. Everything looked so nice!! On display, there was this small tree. An artificial one. Hanging on its branches were various glass dog breed ornaments. Naturally, I was drawn to the Golden Retriever, "half" of Shadow. No. I thought. Move on. I coached myself: Time to move on.... Be in the "now". Walk away from that tree!! Walk away I did. Then suddenly, a tiny voice inside me said: Go back. Go back. Look for the Beagle. I walked over to that artificial Christmas tree once more. And.... There it was!! A glass, glittery brown, black and white Beagle!! It was flawless!! Plus, the ornament may as well have been custom-made!! Black on its back, a white chest, this adorable brown-colored furrowed forehead.... Just like Rose!! I purchased the ornament. Its tag read: Beagle: Dogs selflessly give humans their unconditional love and loyalty. Beagles are one of the most popular scent hounds because of their energy, willingness to work and sweet dispositions. They make great family pets and truly enjoy their status as "man's best friend." Wow. Minus the "energy (and) willingness to work" part, that describes Rose extremely well!! Loyal. A sweet disposition. Loving. I will treasure forever that sparkly glass Beagle ornament. One glance at it reminds me of so much. That first Christmas without Shadow. My emotional meltdown. Healing. And everything that Rose blesses me with!! She is an incredible one-of-a-kind, friend to me!! A four-legged "kindred spirit". Different, like myself. She is amiable, submissive, and easy to train. Sneaky, strong-willed, plus sometimes naughty. I love it all!! She is a beautiful, amazing creature!!