Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bathing Rose

I love giving Rose baths!! It is relaxing and soothing to me somehow!! Seriously!! I cannot explain it.... Giving Rose baths is work. Back-bending work. Plus, she does not care for baths all that much!! Typical dog.... Once Rose knows for certain that I will be scrubbing her clean, she runs from me!! Yep. Runs!! In the direction of "our" bed!! This always makes me smile!! She is my little fugitive.... However, as soon as I have Rose in the "boy's bathroom" tub, with lukewarm water running, and her dog shampoo ready, doing this task seems serene!! Honestly!! Rose is really quite cooperative--for the most part--once I place her into our bathtub!! That's right. Cooperative!! She just stands there, nearly stock-still, allowing my sudsy fingers to gently massage her body!! Imagine that.... No trembling, zero "protests", no cowering. My youngest brother--Uncle Michael to Rose--helps me. I literally cannot do it without him!! Like Tim Taylor and Al Borland from TV's "Home Improvement", Uncle Michael assists me!! In other words, he does all of the work!! Uncle Michael fetches three large towels. He finds Rose's dog shampoo. Uncle Michael places our plastic hair drain catcher in the bathtub. He certainly is a diligent "doer".... With an incredible memory, unlike me!! Uncle Michael even turns on the bathtub faucet!! But I pick up a reluctant Rose. I place her into our bathtub. I scrub Rose clean. I hose her off!! See? The two of us are perfect partners!! Because Rose highly disproves of her bath time, Uncle Michael and I sing. Any sort of song. Christmas carols. Praise and worship songs. Oldies. Country music songs. She loves it when we sing to her!! Doing so calms Rose's nerves, thus also relaxes me in the process!! Score!! The other day, I was scrubbing some Country Apple-scented dog shampoo into Rose's velvet-soft fur. Uncle Michael and I were each taking turns choosing songs. Rose was apparently one dirty dog, as grime and crud fell freely off of her body!! Disgusting!! Unless she rolls in raccoon scat, which was not the case, visible dirt never washes off of her!! Occasionally, I will drown a flea or two. But other than that.... So here I was, sitting on the edge of our bathtub, singing quietly, along with Uncle Michael, scrubbing Rose, nothing but my bare feet touching its waters. Everything seemed perfect....When, suddenly, sans any warning, the water temperature drastically changed!! From lukewarm, to.... Hot!! "Whoa, whoa, whoa!!" I screamed. "It's hot!! It's hot!!" Then I commanded Uncle Michael: "Turn it off!! Turn the water off!! It's hot!! It's hot!! It's hot!! Turn it off!! Turn it off!! Turn it off!!" I could feel the steaming water's burn on my feet.... Could Rose, too? Uncle Michael turned off our faucet, as he was told. With slimy, sudsy shampoo still clung to Rose's right thigh, I asked Uncle Michael to find out what just happened. Had somebody started the washing machine? This causes a drastic change in our water's temperature, one way or another. No. Somebody flushed the half bath toilet!! Oops. Our water in the "boy's bathroom" and half bath are, for some reason, connected!! Very, very, very connected. It is easy to forget when someone is in the bathtub!! I then regained my composure after looking at Rose's confused face. What's going on? She seemed to ask. Why are you yelling, Mama? Did I do something wrong? Why is the water turned off? Are we done? Finally, I apologized to Rose, several times. Uncle Michael turned the water back on. We resumed our singing. Within seconds, Rose was hosed off, clean, and her paw pads were unaffected!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

You Had Me At "Mutt"

I recently finished reading an excellent dog memoir!! I enjoy true stories about canines and their owners!! But have a difficult time finding books that I wholeheartedly appreciate. Because an author has opinions which I disagree with.... Or else the memoir is dull, and not at all interesting!! Been there, done that!! "Marley & Me" by John Grogan is actually my number one favorite dog memoir. Ever written!! It can be a little rough around the edges in some parts. Grogan's writing is, at times, quite frank. But honestly? Those are the reasons why I love "Marley & Me"!! I own twain different copies of the book, plus I've read it twice!! Well.... Now I have a second favorite dog memoir!! It's called "Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog", written by Steven Winn. Nice title, huh? This story is about a family of three: Steven, his wife, Sally, and their only daughter, Phoebe. Then they adopt Como, an unusual-looking, pink-nosed, shaggy white, beautifully unique terrier mix!! A Mystery Dog, actually!! Plus, the Winn's adopted Como, age one, from their local shelter!! And, as approximately seventy-five percent of the canines that enter United States "pounds" are mongrels, I commend their decision to go that route!! Highly!! They, like myself when I adopted Rose, contributed to that seemingly lesser mentioned seventy-five percentage!! That's right. What attracted me to "Come Back, Como"? The very fact that he is a mixed breed!! Yep!! You had me at "mutt".... Como was a "bad dog", with this mysterious past. He hated men, especially Steven Winn. Como was also a destructive little escape artist. Being his daughter's main responsibility, and wife Sally's baby, it would have been simple for Winn to give up on Como. But he didn't!! Winn tried, and tried, and tried some more to be Como's friend. But Como was an incorrigible boy!! Set in his ways. Stubborn.... Winn, along with Sally, delved into the terrier mix's uncertain past, best as possible, which is a must when adopting an adult canine!! Seriously. And, eventually, they learned to accept him.... Just the way he is!! There were several heartwarming moments throughout this memoir. Acquiring fully grown dogs is much like getting foster children. They have a history. People owned them before you. And, chances are, those human beings made some training mistakes.... Or worse. I personally have enjoyed "becoming acquainted" with Rose. One-hundred percent!! I have enjoyed solving my little girl's past, mysterious as it may be, based on who she is. I am constantly observing Rose's behavior, and her "personality". I honestly believe that she was once owned by preoccupied, on-the-go, negligent people. They must have had babies/children, because Rose is so wonderful around them!! Perhaps there was marital fighting, for my mongrel literally cowers, shoulders slumped and head low as she walks away whenever anyone raises his/her voice. Or were they always yelling at Rose? She can somehow sense our frustration.... Nobody ever played with her, either. Poor girl.... Which explains why she never interacted with us.... At first. This has been a beautiful journey, as I have "gotten to know" Rose!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Hidden "Treasure"

Blogging Friends: It feels as though I am long overdue for a dog story post!! This occurred probably one year ago or so, but I forgot to write about it!! Oops. And it is actually a "bad dog story"!! Enjoy!!

When you adopt a canine, especially an adult, there is this usually brief season of "becoming acquainted" with your newest family member. Her behavioral issues. His "personality". Her antics. His inbred traits that make him who he is. It's a learning experience, much like parenthood, and you glean some wisdom along the way. I was walking Rose one Sunday morning. Up and down our cul-de-sac. She was sniffing a patch of grass. Quite eagerly. My Attention Deficit Disorder had fully commanded me.... I was distracted. We were still in the "adjustment period" with Rose, continuously getting to know this beautifully unique little girl. Such as her anxiety disorder. Or "accidents" as resulted. Her "Beagle bay". Or that begging problem. Her obsession with human food. Needless to mention, Rose was still surprising me!! So we were walking, as my mind wandered. She was sniffing that patch of grass. Eagerly. When suddenly, sans warning, I heard this peculiar sound!! Crunch, crunch, crunch. I glanced down at Rose. Her jaws were moving!! I heard the sound again: Crunch, crunch, crunch. "What are you eating?" I squealed aloud. There was zero time to lose. Rose could have found something bad for her, or worse, poisonous, lying in that grass!! So the next thing I found myself doing was gently prying open her mouth. With a lot of determination!! There was something inside there, and I wanted it out!! Now!! However, as I attempted to retrieve the unidentified object, it sank down toward Rose's throat!! No, no, no!! Hand within her mouth, I knew this was an impossible plan. If I even tried to succeed, I'd risk choking Rose!! Sigh.... But at least now it was no longer an unidentified object!! Nope!! I knew what she was "snacking" on!! I could see it!! Obviously!! It was a narrow tubular-shaped pasta noodle!! That's right!! So I was forced to give up. Crunch, crunch, crunch. My mongrel's jaws moved up and down, up and down, as she ingested the noodle with satisfaction!! Rose, Rose, Rose.... What am I going to do with you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Green St. Patrick's Day Treats

Well, far too swiftly, St. Patrick's Day has come and gone!! Having Irish in my blood, I excitedly anticipate March 17th. Every year!! I circle St. Patrick's Day on calendars. We watch "The Quiet Man" as a family. I own this bright green cheap plastic children's bracelet, and wear it on my right wrist each year. I love that piece of "jewelry"!! Seriously.... It is bold, and makes a statement of Look at me!! Well.... Why leave canines out on all the fun? Everybody is Irish for one day!! Are dogs an exception to that? I do not think so!! On Friday, March 16th, my youngest brother--known to Rose as Uncle Michael--and I baked a batch of home-made "grass-stained green" dog biscuits!! Which, our "food lovin'" Beagle cross would rate: Four 'paws' way, way up!! Here is our recipe:

Sit, Pat, Tricks Day
2 cups fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, puree spinach and oil. Add milk.
(I almost forgot to add the milk.... I mistakenly thought that it should be poured into our flour and cornmeal. Oops. No problem, though!!) In a large bowl, combine flour and cornmeal. Add spinach mixture to flour mixture. (By the way.... Our spinach mixture looked disgusting!!) Knead for 2-3 minutes. (As usual when we bake these recipes, there was loose flour on the bottom of our bowl. So I found a large spoon and mashed my dough down several times until its flour was firmly mixed in. I counted that as "kneading"!!) Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutter. (I searched everywhere for shamrock cookie cutters, to no avail. Sigh.... So we used the cookbook's bone!!) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 1 dozen. (We baked 12 bones exactly for 30 minutes!!)
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!

I discovered a rather devious way to sneak spinach into Rose's diet!! Because my mongrel dislikes this plant!! And lettuce, for that matter!! When allowed a spinach leaf, Rose will hold it in her mouth. For several brief seconds. Then she will spit it out onto the floor. Next, Rose rolls in her spinach leaf. Then, she walks away!! "Snubbed", just like that!! The same treatment applies for lettuce!! Silly girl.... Rose did not follow me around our minuscule kitchen this time. No. She kept her distance in the great room!! However, once I pulled Rose's steaming-hot "grass-stained green" treats out of our oven, she wanted them!! Sorry girl.... They need to cool first!! My obvious reasons? I do not need to burn Rose's mouth!! Be patient.... That is a difficult concept--waiting--for a dog!! So I walked her up and down our cul-de-sac to pass time!! Once we returned, Rose was allowed a "grass-stained green" biscuit.... At last!! She greedily snatched it out of my hand. Ran into our great room, while still holding the treat. Dropped it. Then rolled, rolled, rolled, as though her biscuit were raccoon scat!! Finally, unlike the spinach, she ate it!! This is, apparently, Rose's crazy way of "expressing" her approval!! She's weird sometimes....

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Rose!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

For The Love Of Mongrels

I have always, my entire life, loved mixed things. Even people. When an African American man marries a white woman their children have beautiful skin tones. Not dark brown. Nope!! Not a fair white, either. But mixed flawlessly together like Hershey's chocolate syrup and milk!! Beautiful.... I always enjoyed blending together certain colors, too. As a girl growing up, we owned these cheap, freebie fast-food toys. They had stained glass-like colors. Such as red, green, yellow, blue. If memory serves me right, you could twist your two colors of choice, blend them together, and, like magic, see its result!! I loved those toys!! My two favorite colors to mix together were red and blue. I would twist the toy.... Then see purple!! So it does not surprise me to realize, as I glance back several years, that I've always loved mixed breed canines!! Yep. Always!! My favorite animated Walt Disney dog movie was not "101 Dalmatians". True, I watched that film, and enjoyed it. Several times. "The Fox and the Hound" broke my heart over its story of dishonest friendship. Literally. Broke. My. Heart!! Once I was old enough to understand that concept, anyway!! (Tod: "Copper, you're my best friend." Copper: "And you're mine, too, Tod." Tod: "And we'll always be friends forever. Won't we?" Copper: "Yeah, forever.") What can I say? It was so sad!! Even though, sharing my existence with Rose has given newfound meaning to Copper's line: "I'm a hound dog. Aroo-oo-oo-oo!" That's my girl!! The "Beagle bay" is her "happy sound", definitely!! My favorite animated Walt Disney dog movie growing up, a film that I watched so many times our tape began to wear out, was "Lady and the Tramp"!! Honestly!! "Lady and the Tramp"!! Disney's animated film that paints a positive picture of mongrels!! The lowly, misunderstood mixed breed!! In it, you meet Tramp, its story's wanderlust "Mystery Dog". There are humans and purebred canines alike who "misjudged" him.... Initially. After all, Tramp is not a "pedigree". He's grey. Shaggy. Not the prettiest dog ever born. But Tramp was a good boy that had heart!! Like every single mongrel on this planet!! Such as Rose!! When owners adopt mixed breeds, they are not living with one dog. Nope!! They are living with two or more morphed into one existing, breathing body!! Rose is a Beagle/German Shepherd cross. Which are twain very different breeds!! Rose has the Beagle face, floppy Beagle ears, Beagle legs, medium Beagle size. Yet.... She also has the German Shepherd body, and German Shepherd markings!! Rose is beautifully unique!! Completely irreplaceable!! She is like an individual snowflake which falls from the sky!! She's different!! Rose is special.... In more ways than one!! And, best of all, she's mine!! I would not ask for anything more....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our First Night

Blogging Friends: This is an old story, one that I forgot to write about!! Oops. Oh well, here it is now!!

First nights together. Every canine owner experiences them. A crying, yappy puppy that was "abandoned" in the garage. An incorrigible, escape artist who wreaks havoc to his confinement downstairs. There are several much-needed adjustments during such transition periods!! The first night I spent with Rose after we adopted her was anything but uneventful. Not because of my girl. No. Rose is a wonderful dog, and, unless nature calls her, or she has to vomit, my mongrel remains on her dog pillow. All night long!! It was eventful because of me. I had caught a nasty chest cold germ right around the time when we adopted Rose. Plus I suffer from asthma. So during my first night with Rose, I lost several hours' sleep, due to coughing, wheezing and gasping for breath. I was drugged with an albuterol inhaler, plus "mucous-dehydrating" over-the-counter pills. However, this attack seemed impossible to overcome!! I tossed, turned, moaned, and groaned. Coughed, wheezed, gasped for breath. Meanwhile, I was being watched. By a pair of dark brown loving, concerned, colossal-sized eyes. Rose was lying upon her dog pillow just across from me, ears perked, forehead furrowed. She probably did not achieve any more sleep than I that night!! No doubt Rose was thinking during my attack: Oh dear.... I have just been adopted by an ill human!! What if she dies on me? Okay. Seriously. But I have witnessed it firsthand. Rose does "worry" about me!! In the days following, I continued to battle my twain illnesses. For asthma/chest colds can mix together about as dangerously as oil/water!! And, this followed an incredible dog-free Summer of one restful night after another. Literally. We even dared to broach the subject of whether or not Rose's dander was causing these symptoms. Which I refused to believe!! Vehemently!! I had just adopted Rose. This beautifully unique "Mystery Dog"!! Our local shelter had allowed us some return-policy agreement should things not go smoothly with Rose's adjustment period, but I was already head-over-heels in love with her!! Nothing would take my little girl away now!! Irrational as this may sound, I was even willing to be in an unhealthy, coughing state for the rest of Rose's existence!! Zero complaints. I felt attached to Rose that much already.... Today, my asthma is actually better than ever before!! Love conquers all....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alone No More!!

A Place In This World
Taylor Swift
I don't know what I want, so don't ask me
'cause I'm still trying to figure it out
don't know what's down this road, I'm just walking
trying to see through the rain coming down
even though I'm not the only one who feels the way I do
I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know
I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on
I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in this world
got the radio on, my old blue jeans
and I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve
feeling lucky today, got the sunshine
could you tell me what more do I need
and tomorrow's just a mystery, oh yeah
but that's ok
I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know
I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on
I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in this world
maybe I'm just a girl on a mission
but I'm ready to fly...
I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know
I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on
I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in this world

This is probably my very favorite Taylor Swift song. Ever composed. It makes me nostalgic for those days when I was 18 and a recent graduate of Home School. That's right. When suddenly I was young, with a lack of ambition. I did not know what I wanted. Who I was at times. Or what I believed. Thus, the lyrics of this song speak to me!! I even have them memorized!! Word for word!! These same feelings arouse for me as a writer. Seriously!! For months and months, I wrote on this blog, with few people who ever read, or commented. They say that writing is a lonely business.... Then, I recently "met" three faithful, amazing "friends". Swift's song begins as a person who is wandering this solo path, but ends on an incredible positive note!! I love that!! Now, this is a good day. I am alone no more!! For Rose and I are on Coffee With A Canine!! This is an excellent blog, published by Marshal Zeringue!! Truly. It is a fun site!! Zeringue "interviews" people with their canines, plus reveals to everybody what their blogs are!! So come and visit Coffee With A Canine!! I have been feeling nostalgic about something else, lately, too. This blog, Beautifully Unique, my stories, pictures and more about Rose will someday serve as an irreplaceable site for me to visit.... When Rose is gone. It will rekindle many, many, many memories!! And so will my being featured on Coffee With A Canine. Thank-you, Marshal!!
The address is: But you can simply Google it!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Two Green Birds

Our neighbors down the cul-de-sac, best as I can tell, own four pets. Brandy, their yappy purebred canine. This fat black feline. Plus twain green birds. During our daily walks, Rose and I pass their house. While Brandy oft yaps at us, those beautiful green-hued birds sometimes squawk out words. Like trained parrots do. Words, that if I listen carefully, are really quite coherent!! Or, they "sing" this pretty whistle-like sound. Whenever those birds "speak", it of course sparks Rose's attention!! Every time. Just this morning, they were busy squawking away. If memory serves me right, Rose stopped sniffing their mailbox post which she had her nostrils firmly planted. Immediately. Her head jerked up suddenly, and faced our neighbors' house. She stood, stock-still. Rose's ears perked. Her forehead furrowed. My mongrel's black nose twitched back and forth, as though it would fall off. Her mind was, once again, filled with endless queries!! Hey!! What is that? She wondered. That house is talking again!! Where's it coming from? Then, while the green birds flew, swayed, and squawked in their shared cage, as they always do, she just stared at them for several minutes, motionless like a statue!! Rose's consistent "hound" tendencies to smell and explore everything those talented nostrils lead was gone!! That natural instinct of hers which seemingly runs on overdrive!! Vanished!! Conquered by curiosity!! Temporarily.... Soon enough, Rose moved on. Then she burrowed her black nose into some green grass....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snowy Paw Prints

Several months ago, we received a Winter snowfall. It accumulated!! We experienced probably at least two inches of wet, freezing cold white fluff!! And, by day's end, it all melted away.... I love snowflakes!! Like the human fingerprint, they were individually designed!! For no two snowflake is exactly alike!! They are unique!! Rose is adorable in this type of weather!! Comical, really!! First she witnesses with those twain colossal brown eyes of hers our environment wrapped in white. Rose is curious about everything, and loves to explore. She inspects whatever those "Beagle" nostrils of hers allow!! Snow is no exception!! Rose crouches down, bends her neck slightly, and investigates, cautiously. During our first snow together, if memory serves me well, she burrowed her "hound" nose so deep, that the wet, freezing cold white stuff caked it!! It was quite cute.... Albeit uncomfortable for Rose, no doubt!! Now, she explores snowfalls while keeping a safe distance!! Well.... Who can blame her? Nose still down, Rose lifts up one front leg.... And points!! That's right. Points!! At what, exactly? Who knows. Rose is pointing at our mysterious white world, I suppose!! It is as if in her canine mind, she's thinking about what just occurred. Hmmm. Yesterday, our environment seemed normal. What happened? Did I miss something? I love how, like a small child, Rose's mind seemingly fills with awe and wonder!! It is so amusing to watch!! And.... We actually enjoy walks in the snow sans any protesting!! Yep!! Several months ago, during our afternoon excursion, Rose was sniffing patches of grass, and a weathered streetlight pole. Nothing about this behavior is peculiar, might I note!! Rose does have Beagle mixed into her, after all!! Our walks always include sniffing bushes, fence posts, and grass!! But that time seemed different, somehow. Rose was on a determined scent hunt!! Then, I saw them. Dog paw prints!! In the snow!! They were large paw prints. Seriously. Probably the biggest paw prints that I have ever seen!! What kind of dog did they belong to? I wondered. A Great Dane? A Mastiff? A Labrador Retriever? I will never know!! Next to these massive paw prints, Rose's tracks looked so tiny!!