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A very good dog

19 Aug

Let me start by saying  I couldn’t have read Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart at certain points in my life. It is not an easy book. And yet, right from the start, I fell in love with Brodie.

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Publisher’s Summary: Brodie was a good dog. And good dogs go to heaven.

Except Brodie can’t move on. Not just yet. As wonderful as his glimpse of the afterlife is, he can’t forget the boy he left behind. The boy he loved, and who loved him in return.

The boy who’s still in danger.

So Brodie breaks the rules of heaven. He returns to Earth as a spirit. With the help of two other lost souls — lovable pitbull Tuck and surly housecat Patsy — he is determined to find his boy and to save him.

Even if it costs him paradise. Even if he loses his eternal soul.

Because it’s what a good dog would do.

For those of us who have lost a pet or a family member recently, this book might be too much. With a little distance, though, it might be cathartic, though you might need to have a hankie handy.  It gives us hope that there is an afterlife for people and pets.

In my opinion, this is Dan Gemeinhart’s best book yet.

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Call of Duty

17 Apr

It was just another April duty morning. I was wearing my raincoat, but it wasn’t raining. the traffic was flowing well and the parents didn’t really need me to direct traffic yet. I was able to smile at the middle schoolers and their parents as they drove past me. I even waved to a dog.

The car with the dog pulled ahead to an acceptable point and, in almost clown car fashion,  three rather tall boys got out. Must be 8th graders, I thought as I watched one of the boys go to the trunk where, once tit was popped, he pulled out a poster board, Yup, 8th graders, I thought as I congratulated myself for my Sherlockian perceptiveness. Eight grade Family History Night was almost here.

Mom had barely pulled the car out when she realized the trunk was still open. She quickly jumped out, leaving the door open. That’s when the real drama began.

Somehow, Mom missed the fact that the little dog, a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had jumped out behind her. I called, but she didn’t hear me. So I ran. The dog was in the traffic lane. Fortunately, the scared little dog ran up onto the sidewalk, Mom still oblivious. By the time I arrived, she was back in the car, sans dog, who cowered beside a small tree.

Although I spoke to the dog gently it was clearly sacred. And although I moved slowly to save it skittered away under mom’s car. I yelled and caught her eye just as I heard her release the parking brake. I was able to grabbed the dog gently and pick it up to show Mom, who was horrified to realize she’d not only lost her dog, but almost run it over. She got out of the car once more and ran around to take the trembling dog into her arms. They got into the car together and drove off. And I went back to directing traffic.

Life with Lucy

27 Mar

Lucy's Nose

Lucy is a pretty low maintenance dog.

Although she doesn’t enjoy it, she will let me give her a bath.

She doesn’t enjoy nail trims either, but she will let me clip her toenails. All my other dogs tried to pull their paws out of my hand when I tried to trim their nails. Lucy keeps hers there and likes to eat the clippings. I let her. I figure it is the canine equivalent of biting her nails and it is her reward for cooperating.

The only thing she really hates is getting her ears cleaned.

As soon as I go to the cupboard where the ear cleaner is kept, she starts paying attention. When she sees the container, she tries to hide, so I generally try to act nonchalant, hiding the bottle behind my back. I will do a few other things before sidling up to her, ear cleaner, cotton rounds and hands still behind my back.

As soon as she realizes that I tricked her again, doggone it, she tries to bolt. But, I am a stealthy ear cleaner. I have her literally cornered on the sofa. There is no escape. She bears the indignity on the first ear and I can see the little wheels turning in her brain as I switch to the second. I block her so she can’t escape before she gets the other ear done.

When the ordeal is over she runs away, shaking her head and rubbing her ears on the floor and sofa. At this point I usually offer her a treat, followed by a walk. By the time we get home, I have been forgiven.

2017 Oregon Basset Hound Games

18 Jul

When the police car pulled up, I took my attention away from what I was doing at the raffle table. I watched the officer as he stepped out of the car and moseyed over to the ring where all the action was happening. He was a very tall man and one of his strides was probably two of mine.

What have we done?  I wondered.  Did someone call in a noise complaint?

I continued watching him as he stood at the edge of the ring. From my angle at the raffle table, I couldn’t see his face, and I could stand the mystery no longer.

“I’m going to take some photos, ” I told the two people at the registration table. “Can you take over raffle ticket sales for a few minutes?” I said, not really asking.

Camera in hand, I wandered over to the ring where the Limbo was going on, and stood right next to the police officer. He reached into his breast pocket, (Will he write us a citation?) pulled out his phone and, like me, started taking pictures.

“Are you a basset hound lover?” I asked.

“Nah, just a dog lover in general,” he replied.

“Great!” I said. “Enjoy the day. It is good for some laughs.” I moved into the ring to take more photos.

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Rehoming Rocket

12 Mar

Poor Violet!

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Not only did she get drenched and muddy, but her life is about to change forever.

We met at a park yesterday for Violet and her family to meet Rocket…

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…a two year old boy who needs a new home. His mom had a stroke and can’t take care of him any more and Violet’s parents want a playmate for her.

In spite of the torrential rain, things went well. It wasn’t love at first sight for the two dogs, but that rarely happens. They sniffed each other and walked nicely side by side. While they walked Violet’s family had a little meeting and decided that, yes, they’d like to adopt him.

We made a plan – in the park, in the rain – to transfer Rocket to his new home on Friday. His invalid mom wasn’t at this meeting so she needs a chance to say goodbye. We will all meet again at our vet’s office, where Rocket will get a microchip and a once over before going to his new home.

 

Lucy by Randy Cecil

29 Sep

Lucy_Nose

My Lucy is a funny girl who loves to burrow in bedding. She was never homeless,in fact, she had two homes before me. One kept her in the bathroom, too busy to pay attention to their new puppy. The other fell apart and Lucy became a canine victim of divorce. It took three tries to find her “furever” home with me.

The eponymous Lucy of Randy Cecil’s Lucy is a homeless dog.

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Publisher’s Summary:A tiny dog, a kindhearted girl, and a nervous juggler converge in a cinematic book in four acts — a unique children’s literature experience.

Lucy is a small dog without a home. She had one once, but she remembers it only in her dreams. Eleanor is a little girl who looks forward to feeding the stray dog that appears faithfully beneath her window each day. Eleanor’s father is a juggler with stage fright. The overlapping stories of three delightful characters, offering a slightly different perspective each time, come together in a truly original, beautifully illustrated book for dog (and underdog) lovers of all ages.

Lucy touched my heart. Told in three acts, the book feels like a silent movie,  the circular illustrations reminiscent of their openings and closing.

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Act one lays down the groundwork of the story. Act two follows the same pattern, with some variations. Act three had me worried, even though I knew a happy ending was inevitable.

I’d like to think this one is a Caldecott contender.

A story of friendship

18 Sep

I have a first period reading class every other day. The first half is supposed to be silent reading. The second half is supposed to be instruction in reading strategies, etc, though we have a little more leeway on Fridays.

Well, Friday found me deep in the book I was reading, When Friendship Followed Me Home  by Paul Griffin.

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When the clock reached the point at which we should stop, I was at a critical place. I could have stopped, but it was Friday. My former elementary students used to say “Friday is free day”, so I told my class my dilemma and asked their indulgence. They voted unanimously to continue reading all period.

Publisher’s Summary: Ben Coffin has never been one for making friends. As a former foster kid, he knows people can up and leave without so much as a goodbye. Ben prefers to spend his time with the characters in his favorite sci-fi books…until he rescues an abandoned mutt from the alley next-door to the Coney Island Library.

Scruffy little Flip leads Ben to befriend a fellow book-lover named Halley—yes, like the comet—a girl unlike anyone he has ever met. Ben begins thinking of her as “Rainbow Girl” because of her crazy-colored clothes and her laugh, pure magic, the kind that makes you smile away the stormiest day.

Rainbow Girl convinces Ben to write a novel with her.  But as their story unfolds Ben’s life begins to unravel, and Ben must discover for himself the truth about friendship and the meaning of home.

Paul Griffin’s breathtaking middle-grade debut will warm your heart as much as it breaks it.

I finished the book, just before the bell rang. If I;d been home, I probably would have cried. I made an immediate decision. I was so moved by this book, that I decided it would be my BookTalk book for today, instead of the one I’d planned. When Friendship Followed Me Home  was added to many “Next” lists.

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