Top ten reasons for Sammy to bark

1. The neighbors drove past our house. The garbage truck drove past. Somebody else drove past…and another guy. Then another guy drove past!

2. He sees his reflection in the window:  “Hey, there’s another yellow dog here! It looks just like me!”

3. Water is dripping from the edge of the roof. It’s so darn annoying…

4. Something big and brown is in the front yard. Turkeys!

5. A deer had the audacity to walk past his backyard fence.

6. A pine cone fell on the roof. It could be a terrorist attack.

7. Another car went by on the road. It sounded like a ramp-up to a home invasion.

8. A Jehovah’s Witness came to the door. Well, okay, that’s a good reason.

9. It’s Thurday…no, it’s Friday!

10. A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do!


I am Boots. You may worship me!

I Am the Queen!

Despite what Mother has written about those two stupid, hairy beasts who live in my house, I am the Queen and I am in charge. My name is Boots and I am beautiful and perfect. I can prove it because I have a yin-yang symbol on one of my  toepads. I’m not going to display my toes on the internet, so you are just going to have to believe me.

I have been with Mother and Father the longest, so I am the boss of everyone here. For some reason, Mother and Father love those noisy, hairy dogs! But I am the one who gets to sit on Father’s lap all evening, every evening, not those beasts. I am the one who commands Mother to let me out the front door so I can do my beauty roll on the concrete sidewalk. I am the one who gets food whenever I want.

I have been the boss of them since I made them open the door of their first house and I demanded to be let in. I was tired of roughing it in the neighborhood so I took over their house. Mother was easy to convince….she has no spine. Father took a little bit more time, but all I really had to do was meow a little and rub up against him. Once he named me, a name I suggested, I knew he was mine.

I was totally against them bringing Charlie, the first hairy beast, into the house but for some reason they did not listen to me. That sneaky dog came up behind me one day and tried to sniff my butt! I proceeded to remove myself to the upstairs of the house, and I made them bring my food, water and sandbox up there and wait on me for three months. But I became bored, so I allowed them to bring me down the stairs again.

For some reason, one day they decided to throw me into a car full of their dog-hair-covered stuff, and when they finally let me out, we were in another house! I couldn’t believe they would do this to me, and to top it off, it was somewhere really cold! Then, if you can believe it, they brought another hairy beast into the house! Well, I retaliated….I walked around the in the smelly woods for two days and didn’t tell them where I was. Mother was so worried, I almost felt sorry for her. I made the rounds of the neighbors and ate all the food they left out for their inferior cats.

After a few months I decided not to hunt anymore, and to make them bring me all my food. There’s no reason for me to exert myself. I told them in no unequivocal terms that I would not be going outside when it got cold. I also demanded that they make me a warm bed near the woodstove. Too bad they don’t have my lovely fur. They seem to spend a lot of time standing in front of the stove trying to get warm. Honestly, humans baffle me.

The other thing I can’t stand is how much time they spend petting and hugging those smelly dogs! I mean really! Those dogs are so dumb they can’t even remember that they were just petted and the keep asking for more. It’s so undignified…you will never catch me doing that.

After a while they did something I still can’t believe. They brought another, highly inferior, cat into the house! I tried to convince him to leave during his first week, and I almost succeeded because he was just a punk kid. But he stuck around and got kind of big…I didn’t know that was going to happen. I had to watch my back for a couple of years, but I finally convinced Mother and Father to find him another home, and that I should be the only cat in the house. I had given up trying to convince them I should be the only pet in the house.

Then, wouldn’t you know it, not six months later they took in another inferior cat! At least this time is was a female, so much better than a male. She tried to win me over by rolling on the floor in front of me but I was having none of that. We skirmished for a few years until she decided she’d better back down and let me be Queen. Nowadays I just have to bop her a few times when Mother is putting out our food, just to remind her who is really in charge.

All in all, it’s been a good life here in Montana, even with the continual stream of hairy beasts coming into the house. My favorite time is when they all go on vacation and I have the whole house to myself. Mother always arranges for a surrogate slave to feed me. I could feed myself, but why bother? I’ve killed a few bats for Mother, so she thinks I’m all that. As she should.

~ Boots


Synchronized sleeping and bookends

Synchronized sleeping

One of the entertaining things about having dogs is watching them do all their behaviors. I especially like watching them sleep for some reason. They look so cute and innocent! I’ve noticed that they will frequently lay in almost identical positions (synchronized sleeping) or they will lay in a mirror image of each other (bookends). Is this something they plan on purpose?

I actually think dogs, as well as all animals, are much more in tune with each other than humans. I think they enjoy being together and being close and the way they sleep reflects that. They just naturally mimic each other because it makes them feel like family or companions.



Dogs who swim

Orginally posted July 9, 2012 –

We took our puppies to the river yesterday and it was a blast. Sammy is a novice swimmer so I was a little worried. We bought a harness to control him but decided to let him off the leash when we got there. He immediately jumped in and headed for the middle of the river. The Bitterroot river is fairly wide and has a strong current. Sammy only weighs 55 pounds and he’s not used to swimming in a strong current, but luckily when I called to him he turned around. He didn’t quite have the hang of taking a break on the shore, so I had to keep pulling him back.

He got really excited about the sticks that Stevo threw, but every now and then he’d head out to the middle again. Once I had to pull on his tail to get him to turn around, and a couple of times I had to grab his harness and haul him to shore. Molly performed like the water dog she is, whimpering excitedly when we threw sticks, then powering out into the current and stealing the sticks from Sammy every time. She’s definitely an Alpha dog! It’s been really hot here the past few days and the river is finally down to a safe water level so I think we’ll be swimming more in the weeks to come. Stevo and I are kind of hermits, so our dogs tend to be hermits too. It’s nice for them to get out in the world once in a while. We have to be careful with Molly, though, as she gets quite protective when she’s on her leash and encountering another dog is always an adventure.


Dog Ballet

Originally posted April 18, 2012 –

Sammy and Molly like to play together a lot, which is a really lucky thing for me because they tend to entertain themselves when I’m busy. Sammy is in good shape three months after his vehicular adventure, and he and Molly spend a lot more time in the fenced backyard now, doing dog ballet. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of sticks are out there in the back yard, they have to both get their teeth on the same one. It’s especially prized if Mom has touched it. The funniest thing to watch is the two of them growling at each other while running around attached to the same stick.

I’m planning on building a doggie obstacle course as soon as the vet who has been working on Sammy gives me the okay for jumping activities. I usually go out there a couple of times a day and chase them around, although after a few minutes they both get really into chewing their sticks. If I happen to miss a day of chasing Sammy, he lets me know by amping up and running around the house at bedtime with a Kong toy in his mouth, growling and shaking his head like he’s killing it. At those times, it behooves me to do a little indoor chasing so he poops out enough to go to bed. He absolutely loves it when I hide around a corner and jump out at him. He’s like a little kid who likes to be scared by the monster game. I think if someone looked in the window while we were doing the chasing game they would think we had all gone bonkers.

The only problem with chasing Sammy around is that big sister Molly doesn’t really know how to “play”. When I start chasing Sammy, making monster noises, Molly comes after me and has actually nipped my elbows a couple of times. After a few times of chastising her for this, she now runs and grabs a bone or a toy when I start chasing Sammy and then runs around behind me growling. She seems to realize that she needs to keep her mouth occupied so she won’t be tempted to go after me. I think she’s just a very protective dog and those instincts are aroused when we’re playing. I think it’s really funny that she has learned to control herself by cramming a toy in her own mouth!

Dogs are just great companions and I have a lot of fun with these two. They follow me around the house all the time, mostly because I’m the one who feeds them most of the time and they’re always hoping for a tidbit from the kitchen. In fact, they can identify 482 different kitchen sounds and they come running for most of them. They know the sound of me taking the glass milk jar out of the fridge, the sound of me opening up the egg carton, the rustle of the bag of walnuts I use for treats, and any time I open the oven door they are scrambling into the kitchen, their back legs sliding out from under them as they round the corner. I had to put a dog gate across the opening to the pantry because Sammy likes to go in there and scrounge for food. According to these two, they are only minutes away from starvation!


Sammy’s not so excellent adventure

On January 3rd of this year, Sammy was hit by a car on the road in front of our house. It

Nurse Molly keeping an eye on Sammy

was our fault for letting him off his leash but I guess we never thought he’d actually run in front of a moving car. We should have known better. Luckily, he only had a dislocated hip and some contusions, and he has made a full recovery. Amazing, considering it was a Suburban that hit him! The vet was also amazed at how well he recovered, and I attribute a lot of it to a few therapies that Steve did for him:  microcurrent therapy and supplements.

It was a difficult for a couple of months even though his injuries were healing. I slept on the floor with Sammy for the first three nights to make he didn’t stop breathing. Apparently when dogs are hit by cars, one of the big concerns is pneumothorax, where their lungs collapse or bleed. After a few days, I got to sleep in my bed, but I was up every two hours to turn him over. His left hip was sore from being dislocated, and his right hip was sore because he landed on it when the car tossed him up in the air and it was very swollen.

Needless to say, Steve and I didn’t get any sleep and after about three weeks I felt almost psychotic. I swear, I don’t know how new parents do it for a year or more! I also had to take Sammy out three or four times a day for a bathroom break, and we had recently had a two-foot snowfall that subsequently turned into two feet of ice. So just taking care of him took all my time, and of course we still had to do our normal lives and work.

One interesting thing that came out of all this is that Sammy bonded with me a bit more. He’s always been a very independent fellow and still is, but once a day he comes over to me and wants to get on my lap. He’s also very nervous around cars, so we figure he probably won’t run after them anymore. We’re not ready to test that theory, though, so he’s a leash dog all the time now. We figure in another year or so we’ll leave him off leash near the house and see how he does.

So here’s my advice for the day: if your dog won’t come when you call, keep him on the leash. :-)


Good Golly Miss Molly

missmollyOriginally posted Oct. 14, 2010 –

Meet our new friend Molly! We adopted her from our local shelter on Tuesday. Stevo and I had both, separately, asked Charlie and Black Jack to send us a dog friend for Sammy, and we found Molly just a few weeks later. The funny thing is that she has a lot of the personality traits of both Charlie and Black Jack. She’s a Yellow Lab and Golden Retriever mix, and she’s just the sweetest dog. She’s 5 or 6 years old but looks older because her face has gone prematurely gray. She’s quite willing to chase Sammy around, though, and actually wore him out earlier today. So the pressure is off me and Stevo to entertain!


The Vanilla Gorilla

We got Sammy about 6 months after Black Jack died. I was driving by the Humane Society in Missoula and I just stopped in on a whim to see who was in residence. I

Baby Sammy

looked on their website in the lobby and saw Sammy, and I asked to see him. He was just 3-1/2 months old (see header pic) and I fell in love with him. I asked them to give me a day to bring back my hubby to meet him. The next day, Steve and Charlie both came back to the shelter with me to meet Sammy. At the time, his name was Smitty, and he had been living in a car with a family who had lost their apartment and didn’t have a place to live.

When Sammy met Charlie, he immediately sat in front of the Big Dog and let Charlie be the boss. It was so funny! Then Steve picked Sammy up and he snuggled into Steve’s neck right away. We talked about it for a few minutes, especially whether we were ready to have a puppy. They told us that two other families were waiting to meet Sammy, so we knew if we didn’t take him someone would. Finally, we decided to take a shot. We couldn’t take him home right away because they won’t let a dog out of the shelter unless they are neutered or spayed. We really didn’t want him neutered so young, but we didn’t have a choice. We figured at least if we took him, we’d be able to give him the nutrition he needs to be healthy.

He and Charlie got along well from the start. Charlie taught Sammy how to patrol the back yard, how to chew on sticks, and when to bark at the neighbors. Sammy loved to sit next to Charlie and he would assume whatever pose Charlie was in. They had six months together before Charlie died and I think Sammy really missed him. I’m glad they had some time together and Charlie did a good job of training Sammy to be our protector and companion. Thanks Big Dog!


Dreams of Charlie

Originally posted Sept. 3, 2010 –

I’ve had five dreams about Charlie since he died, and the last three have shown him happy, young and healthy. In the last dream, he brought two big wild cats with him, and he was playing with them on the floor and wanted me to pet them. They were friendly and loving. I think Charlie is probably having a great time in the etheric realm. I haven’t seen him with Black Jack, but my heart tells me they are together. I still miss them both so much that sometimes I can hardly breathe, but I have to trust that their spirits live on. I know someday I will see them again.

I’m glad we have Sammy to make us laugh and challenge our parenting skills. He’s a naughty monkey sometimes, and recently chewed up a scarf I am knitting for Stevo. Sammy just turned one year old yesterday. Happy birthday to the Vanilla Gorilla!

~ Dooney


Goodbye to a dear friend

Originally posted July 26, 2010 –

Our beloved dog Charlie died July 2nd of complications from a ruptured spleen. It was very sudden and quite a shock and we are still deeply grieving for him. Charlie was

Charlie with his Papa

such a sweet and gentle soul, and we miss him every minute of every day. It feels like we’ve had one blow after another for the past year, and it’s very hard to maintain the etheric side of our lives when things like this happen.

Our friends Carol and Don had just visited us two days before Charlie died and  I’m so glad Carol and Don got to see Charlie one more time. He really loved it when they visited, and Don always called him “Chuck”.

Charlie was 12-1/2 years old and had been our companion for almost all that time. In fact, we had him with us when we first came to the Bitterroot Valley and found the house we now live in. We drove up this road to go the trailhead at the end of the road so we could take Charlie for a walk and on the way up we saw the For Sale sign on this house. Two days later we made an offer and 45 days after that we moved in. One of Steve’s patients here who communicates with animals once told us that Charlie told her he had been here before, about 200 years ago. He said he was very happy to be back in this valley.

We will keep going on even though our hearts are broken, and hope that Charlie is happy now that he is free. I’ve had a few visits from him in my dreams and he just wants me to hug him. I hope he and Black Jack are together.

~ Dooney