Sunday, December 16, 2007

Of Ice and Hand Warmers

We have ice.

Granted, it's not as much as the dear folks out in the mid-west have had over the last week (bless their souls), but it's enough to knock down trees and power lines. And it's our second ice storm in the past few days.

Here are a few shots from the yard:

Burning bush berries:

Our poor white birch:

Our poor clump birch:

Our poor weeping willow and white pines:

Mr. Chickadee at the feeder:

Mr. Titmouse above the feeder:

The clothesline:

More feeders:

It's still cold and raining (at 32 degrees, still cold enough to add to our ice accumulation), so I suspect we'll get even more ice build-up. And we've been given wind advisories for the rest of the day (supposedly getting wind gusts up to 40 mph again).

That's not good. Accumulated ice + high winds = mega tree damage.


I must say, though, that I've found a small silver lining in the freeze: hand warmers.

When I was outside taking pictures, I didn't wear gloves (it was above 30 degrees after all -- who needs gloves when it's so warm???).

But my camera is metal, and metal cools quickly and retains the cold, and my poor stubby fingers got numb fast.

I do have a hand-warmer mug, btw (a gift from a friend after I broke my hand last year). If you want to see it or read about it, click here.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

When I came in from outside, all I had to do was announce to the ten hopeful eyes looking up at me, who wants to be my hand-warmer?

And I had five living volunteers clamoring to be the first to bring life to my stone-cold hands.


There's nothing like the warmth of a Lab to lessen winter's chill and bring life to the soul.

'Til next time,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Lessons from Labs #2 - Gifts, Part Two

1. Give with the recipient in mind (and it needs to be an accurate perception of the recipient; NOT who or what we wish they were or want them to be).

You can tell in this picture how thrilled Baxter was by his Christmas collar three years ago. :l)

This year, with how intelligent our Lab kids are here, I could probably make a case for giving them the latest season of House on DVD (they do look at the TV now and then) or a Backpacker magazine subscription (they love hiking, the outdoors, and shredding glossy periodical pages). I could even give them a book on Basic Obedience Training (they do love to work!) :o) But I'll resist the urge and get them what they would enjoy (like treat-stuffed kongs) instead.

Now, this idea of thinking about the recipient may sound obvious. BUT, we've all been on the receiving end of a gift someone wanted to give who clearly gave little thought to who they were giving it to or how we would receive it (I'm thinking about a mounted singing trout given to someone who just wants peace and quiet, or of a husband giving his wife a vacuum cleaner or diet cookbook).

There is, however, always room for surprises! ;o)

2. Reality check: Sometimes the wrapping really is more fun. Okay. Who of us hasn't received a gift with heart-thumping anticipation over what it might contain only to discover what it really contained was far less exciting (like the mounted singing trout from #1 above). I think of Ridge shredding stuffed toys to find squeaker mechanisms (yesterday's video): what seems so exciting to him, when unwrapped, turns out to be anticlimactic, at best.

Need a human illustration? Just think of two-year-olds tearing through packages, finding what's inside, and then playing with wrapping paper, empty boxes, and ribbons because the trimmings are far more fun.

That's just the way of it with gifts. Sometimes they're home-runs, sometimes they're foul balls, and sometimes they're just plain duds. It's all part of the experience. There's no need to take a disappointing gift personally (as either giver or receiver). The gift itself contains the hidden gift of hope-filled anticipation-- a gift all by itself. If nothing less, we can treasure the process.

3. Food is always good. Here's real wisdom from our gang: when in doubt...give edible gifts (hehe). Yummies are never duds (well, except maybe fruitcake). ;o)

4. Presence means more than presents. Our canine kids relish being with us; as far as they're concerned, there's nothing like snuggling, resting near, or playing with their humans. Oh, sure, on Christmas morning we can make them happy and keep them busy in another room with a bone or two, but it doesn't last long. It's a momentary distraction at best. What they really want is to be in the middle of it all, with us. They want to be included (that's Baxter as puppy opening his present with us Christmas morning five years ago). Is that really too much to ask?

5. It's the not the what as much as the who. Well, okay. With Labs, maybe it really is the what (our gang doesn't care who hands them the treat biscuits, as long as they get the treat biscuits).

But I do vaguely recall back in 1996, while we relocated to France for three months, we arranged for a house sitter to move in with our then two Labs, Stoney and Strider. Stoney, being more people oriented, didn't care about the what. She wanted her humans. Period. She wanted them home now. She stopped eating. She got sick. She grew depressed and lethargic.

No amount of what (treats, food, walks, work, exercise) could replace her need for her who. (Yes, that's the old Stoney girl in photo on right.)

Maybe it depends on the recipient (see #1 above). And if I really think about it, even our gang today (Baxter, Strider, Elsie, Kenya, and Pinot) wouldn't trade who for what any day of the week.

I wouldn't either.

'Til next time,

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ridge and Squeaker Toys

The following video captures why squeaker toys don't last long at our house.

DD Sarah and her future hubby (yes, they're officially engaged and getting married in June!!!!) were in for a brief visit this weekend, and Sarah wanted Chris to see how Ridge reacts to anything with a squeaker inside.

Hence the following video (just click the arrow pointing right and the video should start, even if the screen is black). Check out how focused Ridge is until he's succeeded in removing the squeaker - hehe.

He's just so proud of himself, protecting his humans from that big bad scary squeaky thing!

Now you know what Santa will definitely NOT be bringing the canine kids this year. :o)

'Til next time,

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Lessons from Labs: #1 - Gifts

1. The best gifts are free. Time, attention, affection, companionship -- these are the things every Lab (and human) longs for.

2. It's far more fun to give than receive. Think about it: Would your Lab prefer to lick your face or have his faced licked by you? Case rested.

3. It's the heart, not the thing, that counts. Tennis balls peel, booda bones shred, and kongs disintegrate. Yet our faithful friends bring these "gifts" to our feet day after day after day (along with dead birds, grass clumps, and giant tree limbs -- see #1 above) with the same enthusiasm and hope-filled expectation they had the day we removed their new toys' packagings. The truth is, things break. Gadgets wear out. But gifts of the heart last forever.

4. Authenticity rules; Norman Rockwell drools. Holidays can (and will at some point) depress us. People let us down. Gifts disappoint. It's just the way of it. No Lab (or human) lives in a Norman Rockwell print or Currier & Ives painting. But that doesn't stop our faithful friends from living with gusto, embracing hope, and loving us with abandon.

5. The time for giving is... now (and everyday, of course)! Imagine if our canine companions decided that giving was something they should reserve for once or twice a year. How dreadful life would be! Labs are wired to give of themselves all the time, every day, in all kinds of circumstances -- even if they're feeling blue. They are other-centered creatures (not self-centered like their humans). They think of gift-giving as the joyful norm. Sure, their gifts may be things like affection, companionship, help or aid, service, saliva-coated kisses, limp mice, or dirty socks taken from the laundry pile, but they give these things with whole-hearted devotion and unconditional love.

Wouldn't it be something if humans were more like them?

To be continued...

'Til next time,

Roaring Lions

I don't really think of myself as a roaring lion, let alone a shameless one. I feel more like a whisper in the wind or a hiccup on the soundtrack of life.

But that didn't stop my Lab-world friend Laura over at Dog's Eye View from giving us "A Roar for Powerful Words" -- a blog-recognition award created by the folks over at the Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

I'm incredibly honored. I think the world of both Laura (her writing and photography are incredible) and her faithful Labs, Willow and Stella (what sweet, faithful, intelligent girls they are!). Laura's blog offers gentle, insightful commentary on the world in which we live. Her unique perspective humbles and challenges me. And I deeply value her heart. (Read her blog to see what I mean).

So I'm doubly honored that Laura would choose our humble blog here for that award.

Seamus, author of the blog Shameless Words and creator of this award, describes it this way: "A Roar For Powerful Words is the chance to scream from the mountains the good news about the powerful posts that are produced every day in the blogosphere, despite what some mainstream columnists and journalists claim."


I'm encouraged and grateful. Thank you, Laura.

And now I'll have to ponder to whom I should pass the award (Laura would've been my first choice, but I can't pick her since she's already received the award).

In the meantime, though I don't think of myself as a roaring lion, I'll continue to let the life lessons I learn from our Labs speak for themselves. :o)

'Til next time,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pinot Loves Her Dad!

Warning: Cute snuggle pics below!

Pinot is persistent about her affection for Ridge. And he's suprisingly tolerant. Even more than tolerant, he welcomes it. Take a look:

She gives Ridge lots of kisses, often grooming his face and ears (which he doesn't seem to mind despite his ear sensitivities):

They watch the other dogs together (What are they doin' Dad? Huhhuhhuhhuh?):

Like Mamma Elsie (see "Taking Cues" entry from 12/02), Papa Ridge makes a great pillow:

She loves being close to him (could they be any closer?):

She even lets Ridge use her as a pillow! Now that's a rarity. :o)

No doubt about it; they're buds. I think Ridge is "closer" to Pinot than any of the others in our gang. He really does seem to enjoy her affection. I doubt he "knows" she's his offspring (unlike Elsie's knowing from whelping her). But there is something about their connection that surpasses that of Ridge's connection with the other dogs.

Go figure.

Maybe it is a daddy/daughter thing, and he just doesn't know it. :o)

In any case, it warms my heart to see.

There's something unusually tender about his connection with Pinot; he offers her a gentleness, patience, and tolerance he doesn't show anyone else. I can't help but wonder why.

But I don't wonder long. I'm just thankful for their mutual affection.

'Til next time,

Monday, December 03, 2007

An Unperturbed Holiday?

First, my apologies for the poor picture quality above. I took this through my office window this morning (window and screen, no less) because I didn't want to disturb Baxter. He seemed so content.

Baxter, as many of you know, is our observer. Just as he did in yesterday's video, while the others romp and race outdoors, Baxter sits and ponders. Ponders what? Heaven only knows! But he seems to be pondering nonetheless.

Lately, while Baxter observes the world going by, I've been observing him.

And I think he's on to something.

What you can't see in the picture above are the 40 mph wind gusts swirling around him. Admittedly, compared to a hurricane or tornado, 40 mph isn't much, but for around here that's pretty windy.

Our wind chimes clamor incessantly. The tarps strain against their tie-downs. The house moans and creaks in resistance. What few leaves are left on their trees struggle to hold on, but I know they'll be gone by the end of the day.

As Pooh and Piglet would say, it's a zephyr day -- a day for scary things like heffalumps and woozles.


But there Baxter sits, unperturbed by it all.

Maybe it's his focus.
Maybe he really likes the wind.
Maybe he finds new airborne scents fascinating.
Maybe he enjoys the changes in the air.

Or maybe he's just oblivious. :o)

Again, heaven only knows.

All I know is I see my big galoot of a gentle giant out there calmly watching the fury. And I wish I were more like him.

For me, the weeks before Christmas can feel like zephyr days. Whirlwinds. Cyclones. Howling swirls of activity and preparation. And though I've resisted the crass commercialism of Christmas and have worked hard to make the season a family-oriented, faith-based celebration, I still find myself caught in a flurry of activities.

This year, I think I'll be more like Baxter. I'll let the season howl around me, but I'll take time to sit, be still, and focus on what counts.

Will you join me? Maybe we can even encourage each other (via posts and comments) over the next few weeks to remember to pause and reflect .

How's your zephyr meter these days? I'm hoping to make mine read about zero in the weeks to come, but I'd settle for a five or less (on a scale of zero to ten, ten being the busiest and most frantic).

How about you?

'Til next time,

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Taking Cues

It's funny now we (and our Labs) take cues from each other. Take Pinot, for example.

This morning brought our first snow of the season -- a wet, icy snow that will turn to all freezing rain before the day is out.

When Pinot went out into the snow for the first time, she wasn't quite sure what to do with the cold white mush seeping between her toes. Good? bad? indiffent? It smelled funny, too.

She didn't know how to react, so she watched the big kids. Our gang, of course, loves the snow. Remember, Baxter is our blizzard boy, and he seems to have set the pace for the rest.

All Pinot had to do was observe the others dogs' reactions (for all of about three seconds), and she knew: snow is fun!

There was no stopping her then (well unless she paused now and then to sit and watch the world go by, just like her Uncle Baxter). She starts off this video playing with a frozen clump of grass (that's what she tosses and chases), then moves on to wrassling with Kenya. Just take a look (also notice how Blizzard Boy Baxter sits on the hill in the background the entire time Kenya and Pinot are playing -- the cold doesn't bother him a bit):

It's the same with things indoors.

Elsie enjoys the wood stove; it's her favorite place to park during the winter. Pinot wasn't sure what to make of it at first. In this next picture, I can almost hear Elsie encouraging her: You see, Pinot, fire is a good thing if you don't get too close, lick it, or try to pick it up. It's great to just watch and get warm by:

So Pinot, taking her cue from Elsie, learns to relax and enjoy the woodstove's warmth, particularly when coming in from the cold (not to mention that Mamma Elsie makes a pretty good pillow).

Another example: Baxter likes the swoop chair. And if the swoop chair is okay for Baxter, then it must be okay for Pinot:

At 12 weeks old, Pinot is rapidly learning and growing, taking in new things everyday. And she's deciding what's right or wrong, good or bad, or safe or unsafe by how she sees others reacting.

That includes us, of course. She identifies friends (or foes) by how we react. The same goes for good behaviors and bad, desired behaviors and undesired ones. Even things like sounds (firecrackers, thunder, low-flying planes, four-wheelers): she looks to us and the other dogs to gauge her responses.

Cues can be good things; as long as they're accurate. We wouldn't want Ridge's reactions to thunder and fireworks, for example, to influence Pinot's responses to them. We wouldn't want his fears to become hers. Especially since thunder and fireworks are nothing to worry about.

Yup, Pinot is taking cues, for sure. That's how she's learning. And, for the most part, the cues she receives are right, true, and accurate.

But it makes me wonder: when I'm unsure or when I'm learning, where do I look for my cues? Are the cues I receive accurate or are they influenced by negative past events? And if my perceptions differ from the cues I receive, when should I trust myself instead of the cues?

It's good to think about this stuff now and then. Especially with the holidays (and all of its ingrained reactions) coming.

In the meantime, I'll watch Pinot. Maybe I'll even take some cues from her! Who said old dogs can't learn new tricks?!

'Til next time,

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Poor Ridge.

Poor Baxter.

Poor Elsie.

Poor Kenya.

(Pinot's oblivious.)

Daddy Don is hunting again. But now it's deer season (last week it was bear).

And these poor dogs only know that Dad put on his hunting cap and left them behind!

You've got to get the context here.

See, Don's hunting cap looks an awful lot like the baseball cap he puts on when he takes the dogs into the woods or out for a hike on the dirt roads around our house or over to the hunt club.

To the four big dogs, baseball cap = ohboyohboyohboyohboyIgettogoplaywithDad!

Ah, but this time, and last week, nobody got to go.

They don't understand that Labs don't retrieve black bear or white-tail deer. They don't get that it wouldn't be safe for them, particularly our yellows, and in particular Ridge, to roam the woods when other hunters (some, perhaps, less than careful about what they shoot at) are gunning for venison.

All they know is Dad left us behind! Aghast! How could he??? Such betrayal!

Pinot, of course, is oblivious. She's just a happy girl, trit-trotting through life right now. She hasn't made the connection between Don's hats and adventure.

But Baxter, Elsie, Ridge, and Kenya have, and they are all depressed because they couldn't go.


What they'll never understand is that not all activities are suited to Labs. Not all work, even in the field, is suited to retrievers.

The same goes for humans. It's a lesson I'm still learning.

But once learned, it's liberating.

For some time now (the last three years, actually), I've been working on retainer for a non-profit organization - a solid organization whose purpose, vision, and values I can absolutely support. The problem is, I've been doing things for them for which I'm really not well-suited (lots of admin, design, and IT stuff). And when I do write for them (I'm supposed to be their writer), I mostly put other people's ideas into words for them. I write their stuff, like a ghost-writer does. Not mine.

But I am a writer. And I've REALLY missed writing -- committing my ideas, my heart, my passion, my interests, to paper or computer screen in ways that are accessible and meaningful for my readers.

I'm also a speaker and teacher (something I curtailed to keep more time available for my retainer work), and I've missed speaking at conferences and retreats (though 2008 is filling up pretty quickly now that I'm back in the speaking arena again).

It may have taken a few years, but I've finally realized that I need to pursue work for which I was designed and created. I need to write.

Trying to do something that wasn't suited to me has been draining me dry, sucking the life from my soul. Like a Lab trying to retrieve a 300-pound black bear, I've been straining to do something I was never meant to do.

I may be dense, but the lightbulb finally switched on in my head. I need to do what I'm designed to do -- my gifts, my talents, my passions. I'll be miserable otherwise.

So I submitted my resignation just over a week ago, and as of December 7th, I'll be reentering full-time freelancing again.

I'm letting go of some good things (my retainer work) in order to pursue the best.

Now if only I could get the dogs to realize that birds, not bear or deer, are the best for them!

'Til next time,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Warmth in the Cold

It's finally getting cold outside. Over the past week, we've had nighttime temps in the 20s (daytime highs in the 40s).

It's still not cold enough to be my kind of weather, but it's chilly enough to warrant our starting the wood stove.

Elsie and Kenya couldn't be happier.

They love curling up in front of a blazing fire -- sometimes so close I think the radiating heat will singe their whiskers (but it never does).

There's just something about the fire that attracts them.

When it's cold outside, there's nothing like a warm fire or a steaming beverage to nudge the chill away. Kenya and Elsie know this.

We do, too.

But I think it's the same when we experience "cold" circumstances or "cold" relationships. If we're going to survive them, we need to draw close to other sources of warmth..

I'm thinking about a couple of things as I write this:
  • a long-standing, trusted relationship (of decades) that's grown cold
  • my old workplace (a place of function, productivity, and teamwork, but rarely genuine warmth)
  • a church issue (again, a place of function and productivity, but again little warmth)
  • misunderstandings and false accusations
  • a really difficult family issue
If I'm going to survive these things, that is, if I'm going to remain healthy (relationally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically), I need to draw near to those things that warm me.

It's simple for Elsie and Kenya; a burning wood-stove provides their seasonal warmth. What provides warmth for me when circumstances or people grow cold?

  • playing with my canine kids (of course! -- would you expect anything else?)
  • relaxing with my husband
  • giggling with my human kids
  • hanging out with warm, caring friends
  • curling up with a hot cup of tea and a good book
  • doing those things I know I'm good at or feel good about
  • re-reading saved notes of encouragement others have sent me over the years (I have something called a "joy box" where I keep notes like these)
  • inhaling nature
  • writing entries for my blogs
  • interacting with you all
Life's been pretty cold here lately. But your interaction with me (via comments) and the other things on my list above keep my relational heart beating strong.

I have a warm, steady life pulse even now, despite recent icy blasts.

And I will. But only as long as I remember to come in from the cold and warm myself by the fire.

Thanks for being a source of warmth for me.

'Til next time,

Saturday, November 24, 2007

She's One of Us!

Pinot is definitely one of us these days (apples don't fall far from their trees):

  • She comes and sits at the sound of the ice maker (my guys love ice cubes).
  • She sits and waits patiently for treats and food (notice the new photo under the blog title in the left margin at the top of this page. I just had to update the official photo, you know!).
  • She loves being outdoors, sometimes just sitting and watching (the way Elsie does).
  • She thoroughly enjoys snoozing in the sunshine.
  • She loves to work (we're still just doing basic training for only about 5 minutes at a time).
  • She loves to romp with the big dogs.
  • She alerts immediately to any kind of bird sounds (even if they're on TV).


She's a lap dog (go figure)!

Her favorite lap seems to be DH's, of course (you'll get no argument from me - hehe). But she's content with other laps, too.

Here she is on Thanksgiving:

And yesterday morning with Don while he was trying to work from home (hehe):

And yesterday afternoon, sound asleep on DD's lap:

Well, that is, until Mama Elsie decided she wanted Sarah's lap (notice Ridge far right on the couch - it's musical laps for dogs!):

And she is, as are the rest, a snuggler:

Some hunting-dog folks would tell us we're ruining the dogs -- softening them too much.

But I disagree.

I don't think dogs can ever be too people-oriented. The mutual affection between human and canine only strengthens the bond between master and working dog, and therefore strengthens their ability to work effectively together. Yes, Don is the task-master around here (firmer with the dogs than I -- he's the primary trainer), but he's also the primary snuggler.

And it shows. The dogs do what he asks them to do. And they vie for his lap. :o)

No, we're not softening our dogs in undesirable ways; we're socializing them. We're encouraging them to be even more people-friendly then their Lab genes alone would allow them to be.

And that, truth be told, makes them even more responsive in the field.

I'd say it's a win-win. :o)

Now we just need a bigger sofa (or more human laps!).

'Til next time,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pinot's Pillows

Ahhh...the life of a puppy!

Eat. Sleep.
Play. Sleep.
Pee and poo. Sleep
Romp with big dogs. Sleep.
"Work" all of about 5 minutes, a couple times a day (basic manners training). Sleep.
Observe the world. Sleep.
Run. Sleep.
Scavenge crumbs off the dishwasher door. Sleep.
Hang out on the hammock. Sleep.
Chew. Sleep.
Crate. Sleep.
Yawn. Sleep.
Then sleep some more.

So, in tribute to a puppy's need for sleep, here are the many pillows of Pinot:

The sofa cushion:

Grandma's Lap:

The Hammock:


Baxter (especially Baxter's butt):

Kenya (who then uses Elsie -- the domino effect!):

Mom (Elsie):

Sofa + air (this can't be comfortable!):

Puppies can sleep just about anywhere in just about any position.

I wish we could say the same for humans.

'Til next time,

Joan (whose drug-induced sleep on a 757 during a 9-hour flight still wasn't restful!)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Home Again!

We're back from Copenhagen. :o) And we had a wonderful trip. Poor hubby had to work most of the time. I had to work only one day, then spent the rest of the week bopping around the city on my own. What fun.

I saw surprisingly few dogs during my wanderings. Two of the four I saw during the week were Labs, which made me miss home, of course.

The first thing we did after our return and a stock-up run to the grocery store was pick up Pinot. She had great fun playing with her sister, Dakota, all week. I was delighted to see she recognized us and recognized her home after a week away.

That was Sunday PM, and the rest of the canine kids couldn't be picked up from the kennels until Monday, so we had full evening of enjoying Pinot to ourselves. What a snuggle bear!

It was the first time, however, that she'd ever been without a canine companion. Since birth, her litter mates or our gang have been around for her to play with. The poor little girl roamed around whimpering and looking for her buds off and on all evening.

She was fine as long as we were near. But she didn't like being left alone.

Until it was time for bed, that is. Then she quite happily entered her crate and settled down to sleep -- something that took me completely by surprise. I fully expected a night of her crying. But she seemed secure, even content, there. If that's not a plug for crate-training, I don't know what is.

Monday, I picked up the other four dogs. And Pinot could barely contain her excitement or her enthusiasm (same went for the gang).

Once they had the wiggles out of their systems, they all settled back into a normal routine, while Pinot took great advantage of the hammocks we've now moved indoors, claiming them as her own. :o)

She's a happy girl now -- glad to be with Elsie, Baxter, Ridge, and Kenya, and she doesn't seem to miss her litter mates anymore. In fact, Kenya has turned out to be her new playmate; she's a wonderful "aunt" to Pinot. I'll post more about that later this weekend.

So, we're back. And the gang is back in their routine. We're no longer in litter-mode (the other pups are gone, everything is all cleaned up, and we have our house back again -- it's actually a relief at this point, and just in time for the holidays). And we're all doing well.

It's good to be home.

'Til next time,

Monday, November 05, 2007

AWAY message - So You Won't Worry

I'll be away (in Denmark) with Dear Hubby for the next week.

We've got neighbors watching the house, and he human kids dropping by now and then to check on things here as they can.

The canine kids, at least the four older ones, are playing at the kennels all week.

And Pinot gets to go play at her sister's house (formerly Miss Pink, now "Dakota") since Dakota's mom is a pet sitter and takes pet boarders. :o)

So Pinot can play with Dakota all week, which is good timing. It will help her get over her Copper and Killian leaving over this past weekend.

And the rest of our crew can hang out with each other!

And we'll be back on the weekend.

I just thought I'd give you all the heads up so you don't worry if I don't post for the next 8 or 9 days.

We're all fine (us, human kids, and canine kids included)!

Have a great week! I'll check in after we get the gang home again.

'Til next time,

Just Pinot - The Update

Poor little Pinot girl is missing her litter mates, especially the two brothers with which she's been playing for the past two weeks. It's just been the three of them, so Copper's and Killian's leavings have been hard on her.

Not to worry, though. Pinot is getting boatloads of snuggles with us, though, and boatloads of time with our gang -- even crating now and then with Kenya, which they both thoroughly enjoy, so she'll adjust in time, I'm sure.

She also likes sleeping with Baxter or Kenya on the couch or with Elsie on the hammock. She likes playing with Ridge and Kenya best it seems. :o)

She just went in for her 10-week check-up at the vet's and...the GREAT NEWS is this: Pinot's heart murmur is GONE -- no sign of it at all! It must have been a puppy anomaly. Yay!!!!!

She's a little sweetie pie; even more of a peanut head than Kenya. And she's doing fabulously with crate training (all night, no problem, and no indoor accidents at all in the last three days -- almost housebroken!).

And she's responding well to "here" "sit" "wait" "no bite" "leave it" and "ah-ah-ah" (what I use instead of "no"). She's a smart little one.

And she's up to a whopping 22 pounds!!! (Everybody else is at about 25 pounds or more). She still, however, looks underweight to me.

That's our little girl! And she's a whopping 10 weeks old now!

My, where did those weeks go????

'Til next time,