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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


This is the final post for this blog, set up to tell Spike and Bella's former mommies how they are doing. They're well-adjusted and happy. They've become part of the family, so it's time to focus on other things than this blog, as we enjoy our pets!

Special thanks to Terri and Nicolette. You gave us a great gift when you sent us an additional family member. What good doggies.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barkers does it again!

Bella looks wonderful after the groomer at Barkers, Yvonne, a Hollywood pro, finishes with her! I have just gotten home when I get a call to come get Bella... and she looks amazing.

"My, her hair grows fast," said the groomer. "She has a nice thick coat, so we can cut in a tall topknot." Yvonne wants to know if I want Bella to grow out a show topknot, banded back from her face. Maybe. It would keep her hair out of her eyes. But... she already looks like a show dog and doesn't need more fancy do's.

Spike sniffs around Bella, who smells like shampoo and conditioner. There's no extra respect for the good-looking gal though... he horses around with her, tugs toys, and grows as she challenges him for a beef bone. Good doggies!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fun in the sun

It's been great to get outside with the dogs in the morning. Spike's still ready for more fun - he probably needs a little boy to play with, someone who can love on him and do more interesting things during the day. When Bella curls up for hours, he gets up to explore every few minutes. Then he'll come back and sit beside me again, or sniff around and circle to lie down.

We were in the conservatory the other day, and I kept track: Bella slept for 2 solid hours. Meanwhile, Spike was up and walking every 5-10 minutes. If he's on my chair, he'll snooze for a half hour. Maybe. He's not necessarily always demanding attention, though he would follow me, and he did tap me a few times with his paw when I got engrossed in my textbooks. I pull down the treadmill and walk off his energy some afternoons because I don't like afternoon walks myself. He's fine with that. Just has terrier rhythm to his happy little body. FROM THIS... (though he is actually black, all clean and scrubby)...

What a difference a haircut makes!

Bella's at 8 lbs, Spike's at 12, just about perfect for them. They eat well - raw chicken is their fav, crunch crunch on those bones! - but they're happy with dog food, too. Good doggies.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Big hit

The dogs were a big hit outside a little vegan cafe. Dog-lovers stopped to pet them, while W and I kept an eye on them through our window view. They kept their eyes on us, too.

Spike raised a ruckus when some homeless fellows wandered by, while Bella figured out how to hop up on a wicker chair with Spike on the other end of the coupler: she went straight up, not moving her collar from standing at chairside, just rotating her hips up and onto the seat. She's quite amazing.

Spike or Bella left a "present" for me under the piano again. Honestly, I'm at whit's end. Every once in a while one of them just poops in the house, regardless of my letting them out every 2-3 hours. They never mess in the crate, so I know they can hold it. Very irritated with the dogs... but it hasn't happened for a few months, so I guess they are very good doggies.

After breakfast, they played tug-of-war with a new Kong stuffed animal. Then they fetched separate stuffed toys - until I tossed Bella's under the piano... which is when she refused to fetch from that corner of the LR. And that's when I found Spike's ... or Bella's ...mess. Ugh.

They're both awfully cute. Bella is asleep in a corner and Spike is pestering me for attention. Good doggies.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Road trip

We had to pick up some goodies in Tacoma, which is an hour's drive away. The dogs perk up their ears at the double-beep of the remote unlock and run over to the vehicle. They hop into the car as soon as the back door opened.

Bella, our athlete, jumps easily into her perch. Spike, who's had a few misses and tangles with straps, waits anxiously to be lifted up into his seat.

Once we're underway, the dogs look out the windows and stay alert. But as you can see from the photos, if we park, they drift off to a comfy sleep, heads resting on the sides.

We found lambswool fleeces for each seat, originally designed for smallest crates. The corners of the fleeces have slits to let them fold up to fit. So Spike and Bella have luxury bedding! which may be why neither dog minds the trip and the ride. Plus they are social: they just like to be with their people.

I had never heard Spike bark before, but someone walked by and he set up a ruckus. Interesting what dogs know about people that we are oblivious to. Good doggies!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Riding in the car

We zipped down to Tacoma today, picking up a remote training collar. Craigslist has become my main supplier, and we have "stuff" in a box in the entry closet. It's nice to pull out this and that, not to have to rush to the grocer or the pet store. Anyhow, we took the dogs along. They were good, and they were cute.

I'll post Spike photos next time. They both got a wash and face shave yesterday. Smellin' good.

Bella's hair is getting long, but it keeps her warm. I'm not quite ready to put her back in a puppy clip. W took her for a walk in the parking lot after I let Spike out and back in. There they are, walking away: she bounced back so fast I couldn't snap a shot of her coming toward the car.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dogs are a good thing

Well, it was another day when the dogs got me up and out the door early. I would have curled up with my books to study in bed rather than hitting the trail. I guess it's a good thing they're around!

They had a good day, Spike was restless enough to walk the treadmill for 20 minutes AFTER our morning walk. Breakfast was leftover rice and organic roast beef & gravy - they scarfed it down in 2 minutes, then wanted to get out of the crates and run around again. Good doggies!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Outside in the cold

At least it waited to pour buckets until we got back in the house.

The dogs and I, raincoats pulled over sweaters, took a 2 mile hike around the neighbourhood this morning. Damp coming in the front door, Spike did his scoot around the entry rug and Bella waited patiently while I dried her.

My brother, nephew, and niece, a high energy and noisy six-year-old, visited yesterday. Bella promptly headed for safety under the dining room table. Though he flinched at the hollering and shrieking, Spike braved it out, jumped onto the sofa beside her for petting, and followed the guests around the house.

The dogs had a few moments of play together, ignoring everyone else. What a great team!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Short walk, hard study

I'm thick into the dissertation proposal phase. Still working on it after a year! For crying out loud. This is taking longer than I thought the entire dissertation would take. If they'd let me run with my question, I would have been mostly finished. Instead of doing, I'm fiddling with academia's need for perfect wording of what I want to do. Sigh. Play the game = play by their rules to get the prize. Efficiency has nothing to do with it.

As the dogs dragged me from tree to tree after an "okay,"  their release from a calm walk beside me, I realized again how vital they are to my well-being. There is NO chance at all that I would have gotten up early to walk around the block. We did a long mile in the drizzle, raincoats on. As usual, the dogs garnered many comments from kids and their parents, passing us on their way to school. Good doggies!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Snoring beauty

Spike opens one eye to identify the grinding noise. I glance toward him. "Yup, she may be a beauty, but she snores."

I can't imagine life without Bella. She's curled in a ball in the bed she prefers today, snuffling in her dreams. Being the princess, she usually tries out both dog beds in the office for the one without a pea. She wriggles around, scratches her back on the base, and then settles in for a nap. Only then will Spike, apparently the bed-choice underling, hop into the one she leaves empty.

Two sleeping beauties lie quiet and content beside my desk, after their breakfast of fish oil over kibble. They're happily tired out by our four-mile cycling adventure earlier. Good doggies!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yeah for chicken

The dogs are eating raw chicken this week. I bought a small chicken at the market (= 7 mealtimes when cut up) and the dogs LOVE it. There's not a shred of bone or skin or meat left when they're done, but the crate bedding smells gamey from the juices. Yup, I forget to take it out when they eat.

They are eager to jump into the crates for breakfast. After our 2 mile walk today, Spike leaped into the crate and would not come out... he smelled food. His waist has disappeared, so he's on calorie reduction (less food) and probably looking for anything he can gulp down. They're resting for the next hour, as usual. Then we'll play some fetch games, I'll send off part of a paper, and the day will be in full swing. What good doggies!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday rest

We were at a wedding and a 50th anniversary yesterday afternoon. Bella talked to us for 5 minutes when we walked in the door. It was hilarious to hear her repertoire of "I'm so glad to see you!" Poodles are honestly the funniest dogs. She danced on her hind legs, did spins, jumped around, and gave us the warmest welcome ever. Wow.

Spikester kept running up and away, and finally sat down right by my feet. Glad to be home, too, you two.

Today, after our morning walk, all the kids were home for lunch. The dogs got lots of pats and strokes. We're trying to slim Spike down a pound or two, and he's finding the lack of snacking hard going. Poor guy; he lives to eat. The smell of pizza was killing him.

The dogs are napping. Bella's been working hard at dismembering another Beanie baby. She is persistent! They had a 30 minute walk on the treadmill, and will be ready for a little treat and bed in a few hours. Good doggies!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tinkle trap

Of course, my HUSBAND stepped in the pee left beside the dog bed in the kitchen. I got really annoyed. The dogs had been in and out all day, every two hours for a potty break. And some dog left a puddle without ringing the front doorbell to go out (our usual custom).

Ugh. Wipe the spill, toss the paper towel, soap and hot water, toss the paper towel.

I suspect Spike. He hasn't had an accident since we brought him home from Alexis' place, but she keeps a pee band around him in the house. I've never seen Bella mark the house.

When I considered keeping Missy (who is completely housetrained), Spike's unreliability put him on the hot spot. Luckily for him, the kids protested loudly and Spike has stayed put. Missy went to another home where she is loved and fits in perfectly.

Spike is so CUTE and otherwise a fantastic pet. It's just really annoying that he's not 100% reliable, especially after nearly a year. I'm considering keeping a belly band -- as well as my usual sharp eye -- on him in the house. Yeah, he's safe with us as his forever home. Forgive... and forget already. That was yesterday.

They got me out the door and walking again this morning. Good doggies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Haircut day

Yesterday was shampoo and haircut day for both dogs. Spike lucked out with a full body trim, down from 2" of shag to 1/2" of hair. He shivered a bit this morning when we went for a bike ride, but warmed up when the blood started flowing to his skin. (My view from the bike is in the photos.)

Bella just got a face trim. I love her hair long, and after putting a bit of diluted cream rinse on her, she brushed out easily. Hmmm. Why didn't I think of that before?

I'm still using the name tag lanyard with two loops on the end as a coupler. Works great, and they've never run into the wheels with the Walky-Dog extension from the seat post. Bella will occasionally walk through the center of the bike when we stop for Spike's potty break. We never move until they're sorted out on the right side.

Bella is quite the puller - I feel like I'm on a dog sled early in the run when they're both straining to go faster, faster! I let them pull me if I feel like it's maximum speed they should go... 11mph is my limit for such little dogs. After a mile or two, they're trotting alongside happily, first rush of energy worn off. Then it's a nice jog for a few more miles before we got home. Bella takes a nap; Spike wanders the house. Then it's time for breakfast and a rest in the crates.

They look cute with their red harnesses. We're usually out when the elementary kids are going to school. Many stop to wave at them, and the little girls love when they have coats on against the weather.

We were happy to have dry roads and moderate temperature on our outing today. I always appreciate a rainless morning... though it seems like Spike has picked up a predictable habit of wiping his feet on the front mat before entering the house. Thanks for that, Alexis!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

They're home!

The dogs are doing their first evening walk on the treadmill in a week and a half. Today, I picked them up from their home-away-from-home with Alexas. She does a great job watching them anytime we're gone. With two dogs of her own--the laidback, Great Dane/Heeler mix named Chaos and new girl on the block, Havanese Missy--her house was full indeed.

"When I get home from school, I flop on the couch and all the dogs sit near me. I pet them all, and then they settle down." Sounds like doggie heaven. "I just love having them around! We'll miss them." Her two young nieces, frequent visitors, have fallen in love with Spike and Missy, so they often walk all four dogs together. Poodle Bella prefers Alexas' mother, so everyone's happy.

I was amused to see one of the young girls hooking a protective finger around terrier Spike's collar so he couldn't bolt out the door. "I like him best!" she exclaimed, having a hard time giving him up.

"Please bring them by if you'd like, anytime, for a dog play-date," Alexas said. We just may do that. Chaos had been reluctant to accept other dogs in the past. After only two weeks, Missy sprawls on him, climbs over him, and generally has become a buddy. Chaos' separation anxiety during the few hours without adults has disappeared with Missy's company.

I missed them and am glad to have them home. Good doggies!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crufts magazine

Free copy online - with video on massaging your dog.

Travel blues

I hate being without the dogs. Today W and I went for a walk from the hotel to breakfast, shivering in the blustery cold winds of Memphis. I missed holding the leash and watching that I don't step on the dogs when they first frisk around my feet coming up the driveway.

I also miss their antics. They are good distractions when I am overwhelmed by too many books. Here, I find myself gnawing my fingernails without furry coats to stroke.

I'll be calling their minder today to check how they are doing. And I'm happy to be home soon to have them jump all around me in welcome. That's one of the best parts of seeing them again. Good doggies.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Not a poodle

Bella IS a poodle. Watching her bounce around, above, and under Spike makes me laugh. She is a happy clown. She's also incredibly smart.

Spike was billed as a poodle mix. Not so.

Today I went online to see what chihuahua and terrier mixes looked like. The short answer? Spike! (photos of Spike-look-alikes.) No wonder he has boundless energy and crazy habits. He chewed up my cycling shorts yesterday, ripping the chamois to bits. At least he left the pieces for me! Ugh.

Right now, he's in the room next door. Bella with her poodle brain easily figures out how to get out of the room. Spike paws at the door (closing it more) and whines once in a while for help. I'd better go rescue him. Bella's sleeping peacefully near me. Good (well, mostly good) doggies.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poodle belles

We start the morning with a windy, wet walk. The dogs have their blue raincoats on, covering legs and most of their tummy with plastic. It doesn't seem to keep the heat in though. Spike shivers as we walk, so we make it a quick 1.5 miles.

It's hard to believe that it was snowing last week. W and I took the dogs walking with boots on. Bella's were a stiff neoprene. She kept losing one, though the others stayed on. I put a silly, puffy bug costume under her regular coat to keep her warm. (No way would I put it on her without a cover coat!)

The second day of snow, I put Spike's black shoes on Bella, and those worked great. Spike seems less sensitive to cold feet than she.

I had to teach a university course this afternoon, so the dogs waited, wrapped in coats, in the conservatory. They were happy to see me. But they were even happier when W came home and gave them bread crusts to chew. Bella ran up to the office dog bed to crunch on hers beside me. Spike devoured his and stayed in the kitchen in case more was coming his way. They seem happy to be back together as a pack.

Meanwhile, Missy the Havanese threw up 4X at her new place today. Green. Spike hauled an avocado skin out of the garbage yesterday, and I'll bet she got some. Not the best introduction to her new home. But with Kaos, the big Great Dane/Coonhound mix on one side of Alexis, and Missy on the other side, they snuggled on the couch and kept each other good company.

Good doggies!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Funny girls

After a morning walk, the dogs eat breakfast and then settle in for a nap. Spike's under the weather, eating grass on our walk, and for the first time I can remember, refusing food. He lies in his crate for an hour, goes out for another few grass blades, then settles on my lap. Bella settles in for a sleep beside Misty, the Havanese who's here for the week. We have no more snarling from Bella. Misty will go to a teen gal (they met last night) who is looking forward to girl doggie company.

Bella is having a blast. One of Missy's toys is a ladybug. I couldn't figure out the big deal about it. It was cute, but had a hard core. Hmmm. Bella surprised me by finding a pull cord under the ladybug tail. She tugs it with her teeth and watches it hiss its way back into the toy. When she finally lets it go, Spike shakes it, tries to find a squeaker, and does a manly toss and chase. They're different personalities.

Bella has become quite the destroyer of Beanie Babies. She patiently pulls out the eyes and nose, then starts on the stuffing. We have plastic pellets and soft fluff throughout the house until I pick it up. She loves to pull out the squeaker and bite it to bits. Other than that, she doesn't chew on other things.

Missy is calm, friendly to all, and relaxed. She loves to come over for hugs and pats and stopped jumping on us after we put out our knee a few times. She's SO smart and quick to learn! A few tugs on the leash, and no more pulling. She will make Alexis a good companion. I planned to keep her for a week-long evaluation, but if I don't hand her off, she might end up staying... not a possibility, according to my husband.

Good doggies, one and all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

War zone

(Left: imagine the photo is of black dogs) You'd think we were in a war zone. Today I watch carefully how the dogs get to growling and rolling around the floor.

1. Spike walks over to Bella. Really close. Brushes against her. Lies back down about 1 foot away, chews on his foot, and growls.
2. Bella walks over to Spike, leans on his head. Rolls over and opens her jaws on his face, growling fiercely.
3. Spike bounces his face in Bella's mouth, growls, paws at her.
4. She rolls over, continues the game, chews his front feet while he chews her ears and head.

It sounds very mean and intimidating. If a dog came toward me, sounding like that, I'd freeze!

But they are having such a blast. Breakfast has been consumed, they've had a nap in the crate, and they're ready to play. Good doggies!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slippery slope

Both dogs are on the treadmill for a 20 minute walk on a sloped track. It's been a long Saturday for them. We did our usual jaunt in the this morning, maybe 2.5 miles. They were frisky, and I felt energized by the sun and crisp air.

Bella is quite the tracker! When they are allowed ahead on the walk (on my "Okay!" off they go,) she trots off in a straight line. Poor Spike, who likes to stop to lift a leg at every second post. He'll often only get a quick sniff before she's off, irresistibly dragging him with her.

On the treadmill, Spike has the longer lead. He's heavier so when he gets in front he pushes Bella off to the side. If I'm anywhere nearby, he turns his head to look back.

These boots are made for walkin'

Like the photo's varied colors (not our dogs), Spike and Bella have different personalities. They play, complement each other, and keep each other company. Today dawns sunny and bright. The trees are swaying in the wind as God does his branch housekeeping.

When the dogs and I head out the door, the driveway is strewn with a few tenacious leaves, needles, twigs, and branches. Energy is high. We walk briskly until

Slam!!! I'm on my back, slain by black ice that has drifted across the sidewack. Gingerly, I get up, brush off the wet, and call the dogs back. They come right away, stopping a few feet away as the Flexi-leash grates across the cement.

My tailbone is still bruised, but we had a great morning in the light, bright air. The dogs are begging to eat, and I've put food in their crates after the walk as usual. Time for breakfast! Good doggies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rain city

 It's rainy and sandy on the roads again. Ugh. At least there's more light, earlier and later. By 6.30, there was a lightening of the sky, something I haven't noticed since last fall.

We tried the yellow raincoat on Bella a few weeks ago, and she kept looking down and stepping on the front skirt. She still sniffs around at the beginning of the walk, and we're working on "heads up."

Spike on the other hand is less aware of his indignities and jogged with it on, even though his legs are shorter. He doesn't play around until about halfway through the walk when he gets permission. We put an Outward Hound raincoat on him most mornings, with a few pebbles in each side pocket. He got a reprieve to yellow slicker and trotted along without a problem. He looks a bit like a seal or otter, smooth head sticking out of the plastic opening.

For Bella, we decided on a red girly coat, which she seems to like. Someone gave it to us with some dog sweaters. It hugs her better, and is a bit shorter so less protective. So, she's dirtier, but happier. At least her back isn't soaked and soiled when we get back to the house.

Upon coming inside after the walk, I "wipe your feet," taking their paws and cleaning them on the rug. Bella has mastered the "wipe, wipe!" on one blanket of the entry bench. I wish she'd stay on the entry rug like Spike does, scooting around until he's clean and dry. But nope, it's every dog for itself... she swipes her sides back and forth to tidy up or scratch after we take the coats or sweaters off. Good doggies!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So that's how it's done!

We bought a steel comb for Bella, and each time she came in the door today, I combed through another limb or part of her curly body hair. What a huge difference in taking out the tangles!

The groomer took photos of Bella "after" her session Sunday, and I thought it was a nice thing of her to do. Barkers, Edmonds.

It would be nice to keep Bella matt-free. It's quite a feat with poodles. They are inclined to snarl their hair when it gets wet, scratched by a paw, or tucked into a coat. One or the other happens nearly every day, let's face it.

The groomer mentioned Bella's dry skin and suggested oil or fat in her food daily, and washing no more than once a month. Hence the comb. It took the groomer 45 extra minutes to free the knots, and I use the slicker brush regularly. I can't imagine if I just leave Bella for a month... our slicker is too fine to untangle her without scratching her skin.

She didn't seem to mind the comb-outs. A true girl. I used the same comb to pet Spike, and he just reveled in the light all-over scratch. Good doggies!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red ribbon day

The dogs went to the groomer yesterday and came back with red bows for Valentine's Day. Bella's is almost hidden on her collar by her fluffy haircut. She has tiny poodle feet again, which I love. "Leave the head and tail big, please," I ask the groomer.

The groomer is an experienced hand who used to trim a lot of poodles. "75% of our clients in the shop in Hollywood were poodles," she says. "They are the only civilized dogs left on the planet. Now we have 75% shih-tzus." And she sighs heavily. "I do so love poodles! C'mere, Beauty!" as she lifts Bella up to the table.

My daughter-in-law immediately liberated Spike from his red bow, "You're a boy, you don't need ribbons!" That made me laugh. He snuggled up with her and didn't miss his decor one bit.

This morning, since Bella's hair was blown out beautifully, she is only "half-curled" from trips outside in the rain to do her business. 
I thought we'd try the dogs inside on the treadmill instead of hiking in the rain. After my 1.5 hour exercise class, I am barely able to chug up the hill with the dogs, and they'd be soaked and dirty afterward.

Spike finishes his second round of a slow jog. He usually takes 2-3 miles to move his gut, and he's probably done more than that. He keeps turning his head when I'm in view, wondering when he's done, so I sit where he can't see me. Bella poses for a few pics in the conservatory where there's enough light to capture her face. Inside, she's a blur of dark hair that absorbs light rather than reflecting it to the camera. She's up to a healthy, happy 8.5 lbs when I weigh her this morning. Spike seems to be holding his own at 12 lbs.

No luck on moving Spike's digestion, so he goes into the crate to eat breakfast while Bella starts on the treadmill. She's not happy to be exercising after smelling Spike's food, but walks along without too much fuss. Good doggies!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grooming looming - votes needed

This weekend, I'm taking the dogs to a new groomer. Spike's rubbing his ears and scooting on his hiney (anal glands?) and Bella needs a beauty treatment. So, I've been looking at poodle pictures for Bella. I found a pattern in the cuts I like, poofy head (not narrow) and long ears. If the groomer will do her head the way I like, I'm sold.

Vote on your favorite, please!
love this one #3

 best one, and would suit little Bella! = #5

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dogs in coats

We were out in the conservatory most of the day: the dogs cuddled up near the heater while I studied. It was sunny but freezing on our walk this morning: all of us were happy to be back in the house.

We've got a plethora of dogs wandering the neighborhood, peeing in everyone else's yards. The neighbor's terrier was all alone across the street, no owner in sight. It's dangerous and irritating, because Spike now scoots up the driveway to sniff around. I have to put him on the long leash, something I didn't do for months because he stayed close to home. Bella would do whatever he does. With him on the leash, she stays near the front door like she always has.

Our other neighbor's dog starts a ruckus if our dogs go out the door. He's a mean-looking medium sized mutt with a vicious bark. The teen owner and his friends built a fence around their yard so the dog at least is not loose.

Bella and Spike were not happy that I put them on the coffee table for a photo shoot the other day. It took 2 minutes, and they patiently hung in there. (See the photos? Not happy.)

Spike is getting more and more pug-like in shape. Squarish back legs, and his chest is filling out. Don't know if he's eating too much (weighs nearly 13 lbs) or if he's putting on heavy muscle from all the exercise. Bella's sturdier than she used to be, but still looks oh-so-skinny at bath time. I've let her hair grow out for winter, and she's usually warm with or without the coats. Today at 30oF was definitely a coat day. Good doggies!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dog days of winter

Over a week has gone by since the last update, but it's not because we've been sitting around. We walk or bike 2-4 miles a day, plus what the dogs do on the treadmill in late afternoon (usually 20 minutes of a slow trot or quick walk.) So they're fit, eating well, and sleeping the long night through.

Someone gave us matching dog sweaters. Spike doesn't know that black leather collars with spikes are hardly usual accessories for pink and navy plaid. I put them on the dogs a few times last week, when they'd have to play in the cool conservatory. I prefer that they have room to romp and play with their toys rather than crating them, and it seemed every second day I had a few hours away.

About the third time I pulled the sweaters out, Spike refused to come when I called. He knew what was up. I bribed him to come with food and he reluctantly walked over. I tossed some garlic liver bits in, and once he was in the conservatory, he raced Bella for them. She's not hesitant to bound into the space, so she wiped most of them up before he had a chance!

We've met more and more neighborhood dogs, and Bella is better socialized and usually happy to see them after a minute or two.

Bella still throws a fit occasionally when people come to the door. Yesterday, a friend came for tea and Bella yipped as though there was danger arriving. She finally subsided: Tirza had done just the right thing, standing in place and waiting for the hysteria to subside.

After Tirza and I finished tea in the conservatory, we wrapped warm blankets around us, put our feet up on the chaises, and chatted. The dogs hopped onto Tirza's lap for hugs and strokes. Good doggies.

They must hear the car when I come up the driveway. Even if I walk to the conservatory door from the outside, they are waiting at the kitchen slider. We'll be wiping little fingerprints off the glass next year (our first grandchild is due this summer), but for now we are cleaning dog nose prints from the doors.