Category Archives: Family life

Our weekend round-up

IMG_9531Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful.

Grateful for the people in our lives. Grateful for our home and the food on the table. Grateful for those that are no longer with us and how much they meant to us.  It can be difficult remembering our loved ones, wishing we had more time with them, but life is so much better for having them as long as we did.

This year, we didn’t have any guests or additional family members around our Thanksgiving table, it was just the four of us and that is always very special.  My daughter drove in from Michigan.  She had to be back at work on Friday so it was a very quick trip for her, but wonderful all the same.  My son drove in from Ohio and was here for five days which seemed to fly by just as quickly as the day and a half that my daughter was here.  It doesn’t really matter to me, I just love and savor the times that we are all together.  The house feels full again, as it should be, and I feel complete. I’m so very, very thankful that they both were able to come home for the holiday.

Wednesday was baking day and I made two pies and some dog cookies. I used a dog cookie mix that I discovered last spring. I usually keep a couple of jars on hand to supplement our huge assortment of dog treats. Whenever I’m in the kitchen the dogs are close by. Now and then, I actually cook for them and since they are always optimistic about getting an extra nibble they are underfoot as much as possible.  Winn is particularly eager in the kitchen, always alert and ready to pounce on anything that might drop.IMG_6488IMG_6495Somehow, they both knew that these cookies were for them and they watched my every move with anticipation. They knew that good things were coming and they simply needed to wait. They also thought it might help speed things along if they gave me a nudge now and then but their eager eyes usually do the trick.IMG_9497Once the cookies were done, I moved on to the pumpkin pies.  I gave them both a taste of the cooked pumpkin, which they loved, and decided to offer the pot to them for one or two licks.  I should have known that Winn would stick her whole head into the pot and come up with pumpkin all over her! I pulled it away, gave Maisie the chance for a lick and decided that was enough. They get dirty enough on their own, I certainly don’t need to add to their need for a bath.IMG_9490Thanksgiving morning we all (not including the dogs) participated in a 5K family fun run.  We actually did a brisk walk since not all of us are runners.  I had to do a fair amount of cajoling to get everyone to participate but they were up, dressed and ready to go at 8:15 just like I asked (despite my son’s raging hangover and my daughters aversion to races). It was bitterly cold but it was a very festive atmosphere. We were surrounded by families and it felt good (at least to my husband and I) to get some exercise before we sat down for a big meal.IMG_9514.jpgIMG_9518I thought it was a great way to start the day and we then went on to cook, watch football, take naps and eat one of our favorite meals of the year.

Thanksgiving weekend is also a time of another tradition, doing the final clean-up of the yard.  Our backyard is dominated by three huge old oak trees.  They provide a vast canopy which is wonderful in the summer because our house stays very cool, even on the  hottest days, but that also means we have to deal with a thick carpet of leaves every fall.  Those leaves are also the last to drop in the neighborhood so even though we would like to get the job done while the weather is still mild, it seems like the trees need a prolonged cold snap before the leaves will descend.IMG_4074img_3534The dogs were outside enjoying the cool weather while we did all of the work. It took several hours of blowing, raking and scooping but we got it most of it done with about 15 minutes to spare before the truck came down the alley to collect the bags.  They come once a week so I was thrilled that we got all of the bags filled and taken away in the same day.IMG_9569IMG_9586 After getting the leaves taken care of (before a big storm was due to roll in), I moved on to getting the front porch ready for the season. This involved cleaning out all of the baskets and pots, removing the furniture cushions, storing the small furniture under the deck and then hanging the Christmas decorations.  I’m glad I was able to get all of that done while it was still relatively warm out, the temperature was due to drop along with a big snow storm blowing through the area.IMG_6568

Sure enough, late Sunday night the snow started and when we all got up Monday there was a fresh, wet blanket of heavy white stuff to entertain Maisie and Winn.  They are always so excited to go outside after a storm.  They race around, plunge their faces into it and have expressions of pure joy on their faces.  What a great way to end the Thanksgiving weekend and get into the holiday spirit!IMG_6589

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day.

The first dog that I fell in love with was Sabrina.  My parents brought her home right around my 10th birthday, so I always felt like she was a special present for me. She was a beautiful Malamute that made quite an impression on my family.  She gave us endless stories that still bring us laughs when we reminisce.

She was impossible to contain and she constantly escaped the yard to roam the neighborhood, leaving mischief and mayhem in her wake. She broke into multiple houses through doggie doors, doors left ajar, sliding doors that she could pull open and screen doors that she could push through. She knew when it was feeding time nearby and stole many meals from less assertive dogs. She ate one woman’s make-up, coming home with lipstick all over her face. My mother answered many phone calls from disgruntled neighbors. She hunted skunks and would bring them home and curl up with them in her dirt hole.  She smelled like skunk for months on end, we could never fully get the smell out before she would bring home another.  She preferred to be outside, especially in the winter.  We had her sleep inside but she let us know that she found it way too hot and would be happier in the yard. I can’t imagine how much trouble she would have caused if she wasn’t in the house at least some of the time! She was one of kind and I will never forget her.IMG_8259Bogart was my husbands bachelor dog and easily adapted to our growing and changing family.  He was so gentle but also had a talent for escaping and getting into things.  I wrote about him on National Mutt Day, you can read more about him here.7626C075-79E2-44B8-B7A1-9A8553501AABWhen we moved into our current house, there were two Newfoundlands in the neighborhood that I noticed while out for their daily walk.  I thought they were the most beautiful dogs I’d ever seen and after meeting and talking to their owners, I just knew that was the breed for me.

Bailey was my first Newfoundland. I wouldn’t describe her as having the typical Newfie temperament, she was loud, pushy and very domineering.  She respected me as the leader of our pack but she treated everyone else (human and canine) as be her underling.  I wish I knew then what I know now about training and handling a strong-willed dog.  She had the working instinct and she eagerly did her daily job of bringing in the paper. She also loved to carry in the groceries.  She would have been a wonderful Water Dog but at that time in my life I was consumed with raising my two young children and I was content to have Bailey as my house companion.  I didn’t take her out much, she wasn’t aggressive but she did try to assert herself as boss with other dogs and I wasn’t comfortable taking the risk of meeting another Alpha dog that would challenge her back. She behaved the way I wanted her to in the house and yard and I left it at that. She was the first dog that was all mine and I adored her.IMG_8258Charlie  was a Newfoundland/Labrador mix that we adopted several months after we said goodbye to Bogart.  Bailey was about a year old and we missed having two dogs. We think he was about three years old when he was found with another small dog in the woods in Tennessee and they were both transported to Illinois by a rescue group.  He was very thin when we brought him home and he was always a hunter, I assume because he lived in the wild before he was found.   We frequently found dead animals (squirrels, birds, possums and chipmunks) in the yard. He loved to be warm. He would curl up next to radiators and sit as close to the fireplace as he could get.  His fur would be hot to the touch, but he would be so content. He tried curling up with Bailey whenever he could but she was always hot and she would “kangaroo leg” him to get him to back off.  Bailey constantly bossed him around and he was pretty tolerant of her moods.  Occasionally he would let her know that he’d had enough and she would look so offended when he snarled at her.  She never really understood why there might be a problem, but they bonded well and depended on each other for the rest of their lives. Charlie curled up by my feet and died 2 weeks after Bailey died and I will always remember them together; they lived together and they died together.IMG_8257After losing Bailey and Charlie, I vowed to never again have two dogs close in age, the heartache was just too much.  When Maisie was three years old I found Annie.  Her age was presumed to be between 7-9 when she was rescued and she had been in foster care for a year.  After doing some internet research on my own, I believe she was 9 1/2 when we adopted her.  She was a puppy mill mama that was severely traumatized from years of abuse and neglect but she found a new life after she was rescued and blossomed in the two years that she was a part of our family.  The first time I heard the term “heart dog”, I considered all of my dogs as my heart dog, I love them all so much.  That was until I met Annie.  There was something very different about our bond, probably because she needed me so much and I was driven to show her as much love as possible to make up for all of the years that we didn’t have together.  She was very, very special and she changed me.  She made me a better person and those two short years were a lifetime for us. She will always be with me, she is my heart dog and I wish I had more time with her.IMG_1189

 

National Mutt Day

7626C075-79E2-44B8-B7A1-9A8553501AABToday is the day set aside to celebrate all of those wonderful mutts in our lives.

This is Bogart, the sweet boy who was our first dog.

He was my husband’s “bachelor dog”  but he and I became instant friends from the moment we met.

My husband got him from The Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society and they told him he would be 35 pounds, the perfect size for an apartment dog. In reality he was more like 70 pounds and wonderful in so many ways.

He was the most adaptable dog I’ve every known.  He accepted me immediately, loved both of our babies and adjusted well each time we moved until we finally settled into our current house.  He took everything in stride and welcomed each new person and situation as if it was meant to be.80123BFB-9F1D-4E71-9B81-4C06C416DB05He had so much energy and climbed trees trying to get to the squirrels. He actually took the bark off of one tree with all of his attempts! During my son’s backyard 4th birthday party, a baby squirrel fell into the yard (another squirrel story) and Bogart quickly grabbed it much to the horror of all of the children and parents in attendance.  I’m sure you can imagine the sound of the instant shrieking chorus! Our elderly neighbor heard the commotion and when I explained to her what had happened she laughed and thought he must have been so proud that he finally caught one. She loved him so much.

He had a sweet tooth like no other.  I had to ask my Grandmother not to wrap her homemade candy like a Christmas package after he found it under the tree, unwrapped it and chewed open the Tupperware.

He ate a pie off of my in-laws kitchen counter when they were watching him one weekend while we were out-of-town.  My husband apologized for the missing pie and the comment back was “what about the donuts?”.

Nothing was safe, no matter how high or well hidden it might have been. He found his way into the pantry, onto the counters and into drawers.  The refrigerator seemed to be the only deterrent for his super-sized sniffing skills.

He loved the children and was so gentle with them.  He quickly figured out that laying under the high chair at meal time was the place for constant, yummy rewards.  Occasionally getting hit by a dropped sippy cup was no big deal and an accepted risk in return.6E18CE6E-15CE-4933-A631-D3498DF4B510He was an absolute maniac in the car and unfortunately never grew out of that no matter how many times we tried to work through it. He ran side to side, pushing off the doors like a swimmer doing a flip turn.  Restraining him didn’t work, he escaped out of the harness we tried. Riding in the way back of the wagon was just as bad if not worse, he had more room to zip around with three windows to use as blast-off points. Our car would sway side to side as we made our way down the road and we got lots of crazy stares. The vet became our only planned destination that needed the car, anywhere else was just too exhausting.

He couldn’t catch worth a darn. Things would bounce off of his nose, head or the floor right in front of him. He howled at sirens, liked to scratch his backside against the bushes, loved to chase his tail and rolled over on command.

His hair was crazy and went in 1000 different directions.  He had a long curl between his eyes that we called his character.  I always wondered what kind of dog he was and I asked the vet what she thought.  Her guess was part Otterhound. We always described him as a “Benji” looking dog only bigger. When I dropped him off to be groomed one time they called him “Tan Dog”.  Whatever he was, he was the most perfect Bogart he could be and was with us for 14 years.

Thanks for the memories Bogart, you were the first one to steal our hearts and were one in a million!

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Christmas 2002 Bailey 5 months old, Bogart 13

 

Take your dog to work day

Today is take your dog to work day and since every day is take your dog to work day for me, I wanted to highlight someone who has created her own work environment outside her home and incorporated a space for her dog so that he can join her there too.IMG_7507I’ve known Lindsay for a long time.  She helps me feel young by covering up my gray hair. We’ve had a standing appointment for years, the only thing that has changed is the frequency as I get a little older.

I’ve watched her grow in her career through her promotions, salon changes, and partnership.  This year, she took the brave step of opening her own shop, and it’s wonderful!IMG_7510The space is light, bright and welcoming, and has a cool, relaxed vibe.  Capone is the shop dog.  He casually strolls around, sometimes greeting clients and sometimes sleeping through new arrivals. He has his bed situated by the window and may occasionally be found sprawled out on the couch.  Linmay Studio is at the top of my favorites list as a place to sit back and relax.  The mood is always friendly and I feel so pampered when I’m there.IMG_7508A few weeks ago, Lindsey had a special event to introduce Chad, her newly hired stylist, to her clients and she invited Maisie and me to stop by.  I have never brought Maisie with me to one of my appointments, I respect the fact that this is Capone’s place and when I’m there, it’s my time for me, I enjoy the break from keeping a well behaved dog by my side. Since Maisie is always eager to check out a new place and meet new friends, I brought her along as my sidekick for the event.IMG_7016Maisie and Capone got along beautifully, although he did try to claim me as one of HIS people which was pretty funny.  We had a nice time sipping Mimosa’s (just for me of course) and Maisie made herself right at home.  I admire Lindsay for following her dream and creating this space.  She had a vision, and took a leap of faith to make it happen! I look forward to many more years of “me” time with Lindsay and her shop dog Capone.IMG_6995

10. Mother’s Day gifts

This post is from “Annie’s Second Chance” about Mother’s Day two years ago. It was a turning point for Annie and the best gift ever!

For the last several weeks, our walks were much shorter to accommodate Annie and I had missed my long lake front walks with Maisie.   The morning was beautiful, sunny and not too hot, so I grabbed Maisie’s leash and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. Maisie was so excited and followed me out of the room.  To my surprise, Annie popped up and wanted to go too. I knew she wouldn’t be able to go the full length, but I couldn’t turn her down when she was showing interest in going for a walk for the very first time! Prior to this she would come to me when I had the leash and I would lead her out the door but she hadn’t yet responded to “would you like to go for a walk” so I turned and grabbed her leash and headed for the door.

Annie really wanted to go, but true to form, she ventured out of her crate a little bit and then turned back around to tag up. Her next attempt she went a little further, tagged up and then tried again, each time going a little further toward the front door. On the 6th attempt, she finally made it out onto the front porch, I clipped them both and we headed out. I was elated that she wanted to come out with us, but I debated whether Annie was ready to head out for a new direction, so far we had only been walking around the same 3 or 4 blocks. I decided to give it a try, so when Maisie and I headed left toward the lake rather than turning right to go around the block, she hesitated only a moment and then trotted right along with both of us. This was the best Mother’s Day gift I could receive; Annie was becoming more confident every day and was overcoming her fears in order to be with us.IMG_0925

We didn’t go all the way to the lake, I assumed it would be very busy with people and dogs, so we went around the neighborhood and came back home about 40 minutes later. She kept a great pace and walked beautifully on leash, it was her best walk ever and we all really enjoyed it.

A couple of hours later we loaded everyone into the car and went to my brother-in-law’s house for Mother’s Day brunch. This would be a big test for Annie, a new house, a new door to go through and meeting new people. When we got there she was very curious about where she was, but she followed Maisie right into the house, sniffed around, greeted the women that were in the kitchen and then headed back out the front door. Chris was with her and followed her back out. She didn’t seem nervous, she just wanted to investigate her surroundings. The house is set on a huge beautiful lot that backs up to a forest preserve. There were lots of good smells, the man next door fosters multiple Golden Retriever rescue dogs and there was a resident dog to get to know. She took all of this in stride, followed Chris around the yard, went up to the fence to greet the loud, barking Golden Retrievers and eventually settled next to me on the deck and went to sleep until it was time to leave. She did keep a safe distance from the men, but otherwise she showed no reluctance and was comfortable enough with her new surroundings to relax and nap. All good signs that she was making significant progress in her recovery! I was so happy.

The rest of the day went like this: we went home after several hours and had a late dinner with my daughter and husband.  We decided to eat in the dining room, one of the least used rooms in the house since we usually eat in the kitchen.  I think this may have been the first time we ate in there since we brought Annie home and she kept coming around the corner to look at us.  After several peeks, she came all the way in and lay down by my chair.  It was the first time she ever searched us out and decided to stay with us while we were eating!  Usually, she would just come say hello and then go back to her crate. It was another gift on this day.

After dinner we invited our neighbors over to sit by our fire pit. We haven’t spent a lot of time outside since we brought Annie home in January and it was a beautiful evening. I was hoping she would join us but she opted to stay at the top of the deck stairs. She could hear us and keep an eye on us while maintaining a safe distance. Our neighbor has a very loud deep voice and he was conscious of keeping his volume down but she wasn’t ready to greet him. At one point she came down to the yard level and lay down on the other side of the huge oak tree that is situated close to the fire pit. I took this as another sign that she wanted to be close but was keeping a safe barrier and that was fine. If the tree made her feel comfortable, then she should lay by the tree. It was such a good ending to a wonderful day!