mug shots


Our house is presently overrun by dogs. We are dog-sitting and it's been kinda wild. Here are some cute profile shots of the poochies.

Shelby, the pastor's dog.
Lucy, our beloved dog who isn't really ours anymore. I am so blessed to get to babysit her though.

And this is my little Bearsie Boy. He's the only one that is actually ours.

Aren't they all so cute?


Labels: ,

motherly lucy

I love my sweet dogs very much. Lucy is a beloved Basset Hound cross and has a most wonderful disposition. She's never had puppies, but certainly would have been a great mother.

Hannah recently bought an expensive ($35) fake dog. It's a Rottweiler puppy that "breaths." It is realistic looking, rolled up in a little ball sleeping, steadily breathing. She named him Hoot.

Hoot has a little bed that he sleeps in on Hannah's bed. On Hoot's first day here, Hannah put him to bed on her bed. Later when she went to check on him, he was gone. She mildly panicked afraid the real dogs had destroyed him. (The dogs have destroyed their share of toys.)

She got on her knees to look under the bed as that is Lucy's "private place". There was Lucy and Hoot. Motherly Lucy had Hoot in a protected spot by her chest lovingly licking him.

buttons and shoes

Our little Bear Dog has made a tasty discovery. Gordon leaves his shirts on the bedpost, (drives me crazy, but that's another story), and Bear has discovered that each shirt sports buttons. Last week Gordon had three shirts hanging there when Bear learned the joy of chewing buttons off, one by one. Gordon put one shirt on to discover it no longer had buttons. Frustrated, he sighed and grabbed the next shirt on the post. Alas, it had no buttons either. He huffed and puffed about the sorry dog and grabbed the third shirt. I cringed as I saw buttons were missing. He was not happy pet owner. (He's not exactly a happy pet owner on the best of days.)

Today he went out to buy new shirts.

I remembered the first time we left Lucy unattended. We had always left her in one of the bedrooms and puppy-proofed it before we left. She seemed to have outgrown the need to damage things, so I thought she was big enough to be left to roam the house.

When we came home, it was not a pretty sight. She had chewed three of Gordon's shoes - one mate from three pairs. Gordon uttered all kinds of threats and I feared he would send Lucy to the place where bad doggies go. He was very angry.

Later, that same day, Lucy chewed the heel off one of the shoes he had had on while we were out that morning. Gordon went as ballistic as he ever goes. When he had regained his composure from ballistic-hood, he gave me, the kids, and the dog the silent treatment.

The next morning he got ready to go buy himself some new shoes. Once his jacket was on, he realized his predicament. Standing in our bedroom doorway he said, "Valerie, what do you propose I put on my feet to go out and buy shoes?" I couldn't contain my laughter, and even he saw the humour at that point.

A couple days later he saw I had put a good pair of my black shoes in a bag to send to Goodwill. He tried to get me to keep them. I reasoned that I didn't need them and never wore them. He said, "The way we're going, give it 24 hours and you will need them."

big brother is watching me

Yesterday I came home from work to find a citation in my mailbox. Not a mailed citation, a hand-delivered one. It was for my little Bear not being licensed. Yes, Bear was spotted in the window. (He sits on the back of the sofa in the window protecting us from those with sinister motives).

Evidently, Mr Ticket Fellow travels with a portable computer and typed in my address when he saw Bear. To his apparent delight, he found I only have a big dog licensed. The ticket was in my name for my "small breed brown dog."

True, I was negligent, but I assumed there was more grace in the system. I cannot license before six months, and the little guy is only eight months old. Mr Ticket Fellow deserves a merit on that one. Johnny-on-the-Spot, he is.

I licensed my puppy last night. The $250 fine that would apply should I not license him within seven days was motivation aplenty.

hannah's wacky humor

(Hannah and her scooter in Edmonton's river valley, 2006)
Hannah and her scooterHannah has a grand sense of humor. It seems to me that her humor is quite well developed for a 10-year-old. She tickles me to no end.

I have warned the kids repeatedly not to let Bear have any chocolate. Knowing chocolate can be deadly to a dog, I'm a bit paranoid that a six pound dog might succumb to death quickly from a small amount of chocolate. The girls are well aware of this paranoia and do not give Bear chocolate.

Tonight when Deborah came home from Brownies, she came bearing treats. Hannah got a small amount of chocolate candy. Bear quickly joined her on the sofa and practically performed a gymnastic show in hopes of piece of candy. We watched his antics a few moments as Hannah fought to bring her little critter into line. He would not calm down. He continued to jump and whine and beg. Hannah said, as if speaking for Bear, "Oh, but it's to die for."

Moments later he bounded up on the arm of the sofa and was standing less than a foot from my face. This time he was trying to get a bite of Rachael's cookie. He let out a little fart right in my face as he whined. Just as I let out a groan of disgust, Hannah chimed just like the sailors on Moby Dick, "There he blows."

lucy and bear


My two furry babies, Lucy and Bear.

Lucy is an amazing dog and a poet. Here is her poem:

I am a D-O-L-L.

I have eyes of autumn brown.

I have ears of softest silk.

My teeth are like ivory.

My legs like tree trunks.

Yes, I am a D-O-L-L.

Bear's poetry isn't quite as good:

I am an S-T-U-D.

I have eyes of steely gray.

My teeth are sharp as needles.

My tail is like a curly fry.

My ears are always at attention.

Yes, I am an S-T-U-D.

deborah's note

Today our little Bear is at "the cutter." Poor little guy. I had to have him at the neutering joint at 7:30. He was shaking, I don't know if it was his nerves or the cold. He was pitiful.

The girls got their allowance a couple days ago. They live for allowance day and Dollarama. After their Dollarama trip, Deborah had some money left over. She seems to find left over money tormenting. She must spend it or get rid of it.

This morning I found $1.77 on my dresser. On top of the money was this note: "Dear Mom and Dad I Brang you this muny cuz I dont think I need my alowins. Thanck you."

10 things

1. I joined a writers' group. I hope to have fun, fun, fun.

2. I made soap the other night. Note to self and anyone else who plans to make soap: There is a GREAT BIG difference between fluid ounces and ounces in weight. I had never thought of that, but now I KNOW in no uncertain terms.

3. I had a huge confrontation with a teacher at the kid's school. She rebuked my 11 year old for her panties showing on the swing. In front of Rachael's male teacher, she said to Rachael in her snarky sarcastic way that I'm all too familiar with, "Rachael, it's not like we want to see the pattern on your panties." Rachael was humiliated. My head about popped off in anger. That's because we have so much history with this woman. All I wanted from her was to recognize that it was inappropriate to shame Rachael like that. She didn't feel it was inappropriate. "You mean you want the whole school to see Rachael's panties?," she said. GGGGGRRRRRRRRRRR. I snapped. I haven't snapped like that in years.

4. Tomorrow I'm going to talk to the principal. Really this is just the straw that broke the camel's back. We've had soooo many episodes like this. I haven't disliked someone like I dislike her in years.

5. Praying hard regarding my attitude.

6. Deborah told me today that Matthew called her a "retart." (Retard)

7. Deborah also said, "Tyson hurt my feelings. He said someone in my family is fat." Hummm, who could he have meant? I thought it sweet that Deborah didn't want to come out and name names. She's sensitive that way.

8. Bear is weaseling his way into my heart. I haven't loved him like Frodo. Yesterday I accidentally shut the door on him (not too badly). He limped for a few minutes and I realized how much I loved him in those moments.

9. Gordon is good to me and he is wise. I could easily forget the principles that I'm fighting for regarding aforementioned teacher. He keeps bringing me back to that focus when I'm getting carried away on an emotional (ungodly) tangent.

10. I made Hannah a funky mirror tonight. I can hardly wait to hang it while she's at school tomorrow. She will be so pleased to find it. She'll run out of her room as soon as she sees it to hug me and say thanks.

a praying dog

Lucy and Christopher, 2005.
I haven't been able to train the pets to pray. Someone, unfortunately unidentified, was. Oh to be that spiritual!

However, I do think my dear Lucy is related to this spiritual dog. Lucy is a unique blend of Bassett Hound, Dachschund, and Corgi. This spiritual dog appears to be the same blend. I bet they're sisters. Lucy didn't get the religious gene though.

Do you see the striking resemblance?

Pray for Lucy, she's not where she should be with God. She doesn't pray.

before and after

As you may recall, Hannah wondered if Bear would ever become "erect." Well as you can see, the answer is yes.

It was a slow event. One ear was erect four days before the other, leading us to believe only one ear would stand up. But one morning we woke to find the little Bear fully erect. Isn't he cute? 

hannah's question

Bear kisses (Hannah getting yummy kisses from Bear, 2006)
Hannah came into the living room carrying Bear. "Will Bear ever get erect?," she inquired. I spat my lemonade across the room.

Wondering where she learned THAT, I said, "That's a good question. Why do you ask?"

She responded, "Well Chihuahuas have erect ears and so do Pomeranians, so do you think Bear's ears will go erect?"

meet bear

This is Bear. Bear is a ChihuaPom (Chihuahua-Pomeranian). An unusual combination, we agree.

Since Frodo's death, Hannah has searched and searched for a dog she could afford. In Alberta, one is hard-pressed to find a mutt or a free puppy. Hannah is a thrifty little gal, but most dogs are still out of her league. She called no fewer than 30 people before she called Bear's breeder. As it turned out, this breeder is the same breeder we got Frodo from. Because we had a little bit of history with her, she cut Hannah a deal. Bear cost Hannah $200. Hannah paid $100 up front and got a payment plan for $20 a month. Isn't that cute?

Hannah is super responsible. I know she'll take great care to get this lady her monthly payments on time.

Wish us luck. Bear already is spoiled rotten. He cries whenever Hannah puts him down. It was so sweet to see Hannah fall in love at first sight.
(Hannah and Bear, July 2006)

home from camping

We just returned from our first camping trip for the summer. We went about an 1 1/2 hours out of the city. Good friends from Calgary met us on the second day of our stay and we had a great time camping side by side. Our kids played gloriously well together; the weather was beautiful; the campsite was wonderful; the beach was lovely and clean. Other than one drenching wet night, it was perfect -- and even rain seems kind of cool when it breaks the routine and the heat.

We had great meals and we adults had stimulating conversations while the kids played. Admittedly, Gordon and Tom are MUCH bigger talkers than Christine or me, so she and I had to endure lots of conversation that was slightly on the boring side. But, I knocked off two novels as they talked, and that was fun for me.

On the beach, I watched as obese woman after obese woman walked by me in swimming suits that didn't hide anything. After a while, I lost the battle with politeness. I whispered, "You know, I may not have a great body, but I thank God I have the good sense to keep it covered."

Tom, whom I've never heard talk like this, added: "It's nasty. It should be illegal."

This trip stressed Lucy out. She badly misbehaved on several occasions. Tom and Christine had their Pomeranian with them and she got to run loose. People are much more tolerant of a wee dog being off-leash than they are with a Lucy-sized dog being off-leash. I kept her on her leash. Lucy felt the injustice. She did a number of things that were totally out of character for her.

Among other things, she didn't listen well when we told her to be quiet. Once when Lucy was not obeying, Gordon decided to speak for her, something the rest of us do on a regular basis. After I said, "Lucy sit, LUCY SIT," four or five times, Gordon said, as if speaking for Lucy, "I could be a police dog, I just don't have a natural inclination."

On the night of the big rain, I was sitting around the fire-pit cooking chicken breasts, corn-on-the-cob, and roasted potatoes. Drenched, but carrying on, Gordon said, "You look like your spirits have been slightly dampened."

camping 2006

We just returned from a camping trip. When we left the city, our van was burgeoning with camping supplies for the week. We were a sight, I am sure. The top of the van carried supplies; the bikes rode precariously on the bike rack; one seat of the van was removed and replaced to full capacity with our week's livelihood. Lucy, green with motion sickness, was on my lap hanging out the window, her long ears blowing in the wind. We were only a few steps behind the Beverly Hillbillies.

As Lucy's Dramamine took over, her need for fresh air was replaced with a need for a snooze. She clamored off my lap, and with much effort found a sleeping spot under the girls' feet. Once she was settled, Gordon looked over at my side of the van which wore a furry film. He took it in for a few moments and then groaned, "Seeing all that fur gives me a soft spot for plants."

comforting imaginings

Jocelyn and frodo -- our last picture of frodo(The last photo of Frodo, taken a week before his death, with Deborah's friend Jocelyn.)
We had a tough weekend, mostly Hannah and me. Every time I sliced cheese I looked down at my feet expecting to see little Frodo waiting patiently for his treat, his tail swishing excitedly on the floor. He had such a gentlemanly way of waiting for his treats.

When I walked through the back door, I was painfully jarred with reality when he wasn't there to greet me with his two-step forward, two-step-backward gig.
He hadn't yet outgrown dribbling when excited. It was a source of annoyance to me. But yesterday I saw a dribble stain on the sofa throw and I smiled. I called Hannah to show her and we said in unison, "That's so sweet."
My comfort is imagining Frodo in heaven. I've even been rationalizing my thoughts: The wolf and the lamb live in peace, but where do these animals come from? Did God make "heavenly animals" and "earthly animals"? Are they, the animals in heaven, animals that have lived on earth?

I know that animals don't have souls, but I think of heaven as a place for animals too. I don't equate animals with humans, but I think animals will be there.

I imagine Frodo running secure and carefree through heavenly meadows, looking over his shoulders seeing if his playmates are gaining on him - just like he played with Lucy.

I also imagined arriving in heaven and embracing all the special people there; family, friends, people who played a spiritual role in my life, people who may have been influenced by me. I pictured myself making my way through a throng of people and when I hugged the last person, looking down and seeing my Frodo doing his bashful two-step forward, two-step-backward gig. I smile, comforted, even as I write this.

For now, I'll just keep imaging our little guy having the time of his life romping with Booper, Bumpie, Dakota, Buford, and every other dog I've loved.


Frodo Dykstra
August 15, 2005 - June 16, 2006

Today tragedy struck our family. Frodo got out the fence and went straight to the street. Hannah and I immediately went after him, but we weren't as fast as him. He got hit by a car right in front of Hannah.

He died instantly.

We brought him home, wrapped him in a towel and mourned. Oh how we mourned! Gordon built him a fine little coffin while we took turns holding him. When the coffin was built and the grave was dug, we laid him in his final resting place. He got a prime burial spot in the garden next to the bluebells where he always whizzed.
We each wrote him a note or colored a picture to put with him. Each of us threw a mound of dirt on his box as we told things that Frodo taught us. He taught us to love more, laugh more, smile more. He taught Gordon that sometimes you have to tolerate things for the people you love. He taught me how to love little dogs. Hannah said he taught her how to be more responsible.

I'm thankful for his little life. He was one of those little doses of grace that God gives. We didn't "need" Frodo, but God let us have him to experience more joy.

Revelation 13:7 For God's pleasure Frodo was created.

Frodo gave God pleasure before he gave us pleasure.

Goodbye Senor Frodo. We love you very much.

jobs and frodo

I'm flying high today. I got a $.40 per hour raise. That was kind of cool. I also got very good to outstanding on my performance review. The highest in the store. Yippee!

That's all good and fine, but the really good news is that I quit cake-decorating purgatory. I am so happy. Surely the world's a better place without me wielding a bag of buttercream frosting.

Senor Frodo, our manly little Chihuahua, is on the lookout for a nice little Senorita. It seems he is in the babino-making mood. When he attacks Lucy (or a pillow) we say naughty Mexican things. Never mind that our Mexican is hardly better than our Somalian. "Senor Frodo, go to your own le casa to do that." "Senor, give it a siesta!"

When he squints in the sun, Hannah says he's saying, "Get me my sombrero, will you?"

Our little Frodo keeps us amused.

happy spring & lucy is two

Salutations! Spring has arrived in the Great White North and I LOVE it. I walked around the yard this morning and was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of tulip and lily shoots. Spring! Is there anyone who doesn't love it? Later we got a rain shower. How delightful when the moisture comes in the form drops rather than white fluffs! Simply invigorating.

My cake decorating adventure is pretty cool. I worked 36 hours this week and will have another busy training week next week. After that I will be a "professional cake decorator." Pretty cool. Today I brought home a lemon supreme cake that I made. When Hannah saw it, she hugged me. She loves to see me learn new things. She is so artsy and loves new creations in whatever form they take. She's so sweet that way.
(Hannah and Lucy, 2006)

My beloved Lucy is two years old now. Here are a few pictures from her sweet little life.

perhaps she's attracted to me

The snow is drifting down delicately and my snowman flag is whipping in the cold breeze. Lucy and Frodo are wrestling and growling in low rumbles. I smile at their carefree canine antics. I'm thankful for the joy in my heart that allows the simple things to bless me. I read a couple days ago that joy is spiritual and happiness in natural. I liked the distinction.

Gordon was called to a serious accident yesterday. The bus driver was a basket-case. As Gordon told me about her he said he thought he had been a "comfort and support" to her. Questioning that expression, I said, "Were you attracted to her?" He smiled and said he wasn't. I said, "Well, was she attracted to you?" He laughed at my silliness and said, "I'm pretty sure she's a lesbian." I countered, "Whew, good thing I wasn't there or she may have been attracted to me."

pink parts

Frodo will be old enough to be neutered soon, and boy do we expect things to calm down around here. He keeps me emotionally-hopping answering questions provoked by his ungentlemanly ways.

With nose wrinkled in disgust, Hannah asked if something pink came out of Daddy's penis when he mated.

I was very very happy to say no. (It helped that she spoke in past tense. She thinks Daddy hasn't "mated" since Deborah was conceived).

sexual development

This morning Hannah came into the living room carrying Frodo. With her nose wrinkled and her lips turned down, she grimaced. "During the night, Frodo's penis got really hard and something pink came out. There were two balls on it too. It was gross!"

I smiled and said, "I guess our little Frodo is growing up."

Although we had lots of dogs growing up, I never paid any attention to the male dog parts. When Kent and I married, we went to Eureka Springs for our honeymoon. As we walked the streets enjoying the quaint shops, we passed an older gentleman walking his Bassett Hound. This Bassett was the Bassett that made me fall in love with Bassets. Although barely off the ground, he was massive. Kent and I laughed that his "thing" nearly dragged the ground.
(This is our Bassett Hound Granny. She was already named when we got her. 1999) 
Granny dogShortly afterward, Kent found some Bassets for sale and we took off to Little Rock to get one. We came home with Buford. Buford and I quickly developed a dysfunctional relationship. He was so sweet, but clearly he was the master and I his subordinate. I dressed him in his red bandanna and away he and I would go. He went berserk when we passed Sonic, so like the obedient servant I was, I'd whip in and buy two Pepsis; a medium for me and a large for Buford. He loved their cheese conies and would occasionally get one of those too. I loved Buford but didn't have a clue about training him. He was in control.

As he matured, I discovered two growths on his belly. I was terribly alarmed afraid they were tumors. They were sensitive to the touch. Kent came home to me crying one night; I was convinced Buford was dying. I sat on the sofa and Buford laid in my arms on his back. I told Kent about it and how sometimes they would get super big and how he would groan when I touched them.

Soon enough, the tumors got visible while Kent was home. I showed them to Kent and said, "Look, it hurts him when I touch them." I rubbed them and Buford groaned. "Do you think he'll die?" I touched them again, and again Buford groaned in pain.

Kent slapped my shoulder with the back of his hand and said firmly, "Would you stop that! You're turning him on."

I yelled defensively, "That's gross. I'm not either. Something's wrong with him. Look, can't you see the tumors?"

Disgusted, he replied impatiently, "Those aren't tumors, those are his lock-up knots. Dang Valerie, stop rubbing him. You've got him turned on."

I wasn't convinced Kent knew what he was talking about, but I stopped touching his "tumors." I made an appointment with the vet. Buford and I sat in Dr. Cress's office and I wondered how I would handle this. If he said Buford had cancer, would I have him put down that day, or would I take him home for "a little bit longer."

Finally it was our turn to go in. "Fine looking dog you got. What can I do for you?," Dr Cress asked. I said, "He's got two growths," I said as I put Buford on the table. At that moment, the growths weren't visible, so I said, "If you rub right here, they'll show." I demonstrated.

Dr. Cress punched around on Buford's stomach, looked in his ears, and for the finale put his finger in Buford's butt. "Your dog is fine. There nothing wrong with him," he said as Buford let out a pained yelp.

"But the growths? What are they?," I asked feeling like he'd heard nothing I'd told him.

"They're normal," he said as he handed Buford to me. "He ain't nuttin' but a pantywaist."

I learned later that a pantywaste is a sissy. I never took Buford back to Dr Cress. I thought Buford needed a more nurturing doctor, not one that called him names.

Months passed and Stephanie was born. That day, Buford became a dog. He was a dog I was fond of, but he was just a dog.
Years later when Gordon and I were in Victoria on our honeymoon, we saw a billboard with a huge Bassett on it. I told my new husband about Buford, my love for Bassett Hounds, and that it all started on my honeymoon with Kent when we saw the Bassett whose "thing" nearly dragged the ground. Gordon spoke slowly and sympathetically, "Poor thing, I know how he feels."