Dad’s take: A songwriter’s muse

Chick has long been the muse for my bathtub songwriting.  He inspired me to pen updates to old standards, such as “Chick[en] on My Mind,” “American Bull,” and “Every Chick Has Its Thorn.”

The songs were always simple but catchy, never imparting more than three key pieces of information about Chick: (1) Chick is a dog; (2) Chick is white; and (3) Chick weighs 50 pounds.

As you can see, I don’t have a lot of talent in this department.


So, it’s taken me a while to find the right inspiration from the Dude.  Well, it happened this weekend on our little road trip out to the Hill Country.  The tune, best played on a ukulele, draws from American roots music, and tells the story of the Dude’s first road trip.  It’s called, “Dude, Please Don’t Puke in My Daddy’s New Buick (Again).”  It’ll be available any day now on iTunes.
Check in tomorrow for more about that road trip…

Out-of-town escape!

We’re headed out of town!

The boys have packed up their backpacks and their tiny guitar, and they’re ready for our adventure. We’re heading out to Fredericksburg Texas with the boys’ grandparents — we’ll be doing some hiking, some relaxing, some stargazing, and some front porch sitting. We’ll be so far out there that we won’t even have the interwebs, so we’ll see y’all back on Wednesday!

Chix-A-Lot Friday: Adios, fostering!

Mama says some of you are feeling happy/sad about my decision to keep the Dude for myself. But I’m here to tell you: that’s just plain silly! Not the happy part — that part is spot on.  But the sad part? You need to turn that frown upside down!

Instead of being sad that we’re saying sayonara to constant fostering, let’s celebrate all of the foster dogs who have been obsessed with me shared my home! I will lead you in a rundown. Once we’re through, you’ll see how very hard I had to work all this time and how very much I deserve my very own dog a break from fostering. Just look how tired I am.

First, we had Lollie Fartypants Wonderdog. Obviously, she was obsessed with me. She was also a pushy broad, which is NOT my favorite kind of broad. Still, I was a very good boy and tolerated her quite well. I also had to teach her about potty training, wearing red hoodies, and not escaping from the back yard. I did great on all of those except the last one. Her new family even changed her name from Lollie to Lily hoping that an identity switch would make her not climb fences anymore, but no — when they built an 8-foot fence, she climbed right over it! You can see why I had such a face of worry whenever I posed with Lollie Fartypants. I was concerned about her extreme athletic abilities!

Then was an energetic youngster named Gonzo Bunny-Ears. He was a whole lot of dog wrapped up into a tiny, 35-pound body. My dad called him “a cinder block covered in fur.” He was obsessed with me too. When mama got him from the rescue he was pretty mucha ready-to-go house pet, but I did teach him a thing or two. First, I taught him about not sitting in forbidden chairs. Then, I taught him how to eat his veggies. Then, I taught him how to properly share a dog bed with a larger dog. I am a smart Chick for teaching him that last one, because he went and adopted himself a 95 pound Presa Canario sister. Smart, smart, smart.

Ok. After that, we had two quickies, TANK and Baby Blue. They weren’t even here long enough for me to get to properly know them, so I didn’t get to teach them much. But I did love that TANK guy’s cool ears, and what a big gentle giant he seemed to be.

Then we got Stevie-the-spaz Wonder. And yes, you guessed it. She was obsessed with me too. She was a crazy oversized puppy, but I kinda did like her. Mostly it was her tiger-stripes that got me. I have tiger-stripes on my beautiful brown brindle patched furs, but Stevie had brindles all over her body, and I really respect that in a dog! My first task with the tiger-lady was to help her learn to relax and not be so scared of everything. And as if that wasn’t enough work, my next task was to teach her to relax and not be so spazzy! I did both of these feets feats by occasionally allowing her to snuggle on me, which did seem to chill her out. But I guess I did too good of a job helping her get out of that shell she was in, because once she climbed out of that shell, she couldn’t stop partying! Luckily her little human brother Henry loves to party too and her mama loves to throw the tennis ball, which is not-quite-but-almost-as-good-as snuggling on me for chilling her out.

Ok. After Stevie-girl, we had somebody called Little Zee. Would you believe mama never did let me meet her? She was an elderbull like me, and from the stories I’ve heard and the photos I’ve seen, boy oh boy is she a hot little granny. Mama said something about her brain working funny because of something probably happening to her when she was a young lass. Mama said it made her walk funny and it made her be really scared of other dogs — even handsome devils like myself! So the whole time she was living at my house, we were never together. I pined and pined after her, and I was so inspired by her beauty that I even let her wear my special necklace charm — the one that says “Chick” on it. And you can just imagine how tough it was for me to be separated from such a pretty old gal in my own home. Luckily mama didn’t let me get too lonely, and did give me plenty of puzzles and busy-toys to keep me happy.

Well Zee walked out the door one day, and the next day in walked Curious Georgia, maybe my favorite foster of them all except of course for my former foster and future forever brother, Doodlebug. Curious G wasn’t as hard for me to train as the other dogs. You see, she is a lady of mature age as well, so she enjoys the more refined things in life just like I do — laying in the sunspots, appreciating good arts, licking peanut butters off a spoon, and cuddling up together on the Stevie-chair.

So then Mama gave me the big news — that we’re moving back to Texas! I started digging out my cowdog boots and pearl snap shirts, and secretly rejoicing: no more fosters! Surely mama can’t make me foster any dogs while we’re moving . . . right?

Boy was I wrong.

Dora the Explorer showed up just about a week after we got to our new house. I had barely had a chance to sniff every inch of the back yard and give the free-range chickens next door a good barking before she walked in. And remember how I said that Lollie Wonderdog was a real pushy broad? Well that was NOTHING compared to Dora the Explorer, who was just stone cold nuts about me! And she not only stole one of my red hoodies without permission, but jeez, she was always staring at me in the house — like she couldn’t get enough of my rugged good looks! Well after a couple of weeks of that, I told mama: that’s enough! I am only putting up with this Dora-bull if you promise no more fosters! Or at least, no more girl fosters. Mama said OK. So I put on my big brother face and bravely withstood her starings for quite a number of weeks. I taught her enough cutenesses to get herself adopted, and I sent her off on New Year’s Day.

Well I had just gotten myself a tall pour of bourbon and taken a deep breath after she left, when there was another knock at the door. I gave my mama the stink-eye when I learned that it was another foster dog! But then he walked in, and it wasn’t just another foster, it was my Dude.

And you all know how that story goes.

Looking for your own love story? Check out Love-A-Bull’s lovely adoptable dogs here!


Pocket Petunia’s big adventure!

Remember Pocket Petunia from Love-A-Bull, our flash foster who we placed in an amazing foster home a couple of weeks ago? Well boy has she been having some big adventures!

Yesterday I joined Petunia and her foster mama at an Austin area elementary school for a Healing Species Dogs of Character assembly, in which little Peety was one of the stars! Healing Species is an award-winning, evidence-based character education program that brings rescue dogs into schools to talk to kids about issues that are otherwise hard to discuss effectively. Children learn about rescue dogs in general, and the story of each participating dog is told — along with a theme that the kids can apply to their own lives.

Some folks may have read about Healing Species Texas’ Director Joy Southard on our friend Jackie’s blog last fall. Jackie connected us with Joy, knowing we would have a lot in common. When Joy let us know that she was bringing her amazing program to Austin and needed a child-loving dog with a great story, I immediately thought of little Peety. And as serendipity would have it, Peety’s human foster brother goes to the very school where the assembly was going to be presented!

First thing in the morning, I met the Healing Species Texas team, including little Jackie O — who teaches kids about being nice to the new kid and not judging those who are different:

And Quincy — who teaches kids about speaking out if you’re being bullied or abused, and not giving up until somebody helps:

Little Petunia had her own lesson to teach — about how sometimes people are shy or scared in new situations because of bad things that have happened to them in the past, and it’s important to be kind and accepting to them — and it’s important for them to try to be brave and overcome their fears.

Pocket Petunia did great all in all, even though this was her first time in a big noisy, crowded building. The girl adores children, but 200 of them is more than even she knows what to do with. She was a little shy, but acted very sweetly with the kids who came up after the assembly to pet her.

After the assembly was through, Petunia was ready for a nap — it’s hard work, being so sweet and cute!

For info on adopting Pocket Petunia from Love-A-Bull, click here.

For info on bringing Healing Species Texas to your local school or other facility, click here.

Reality Bites: the consequences of falling in love

When B and I met in 2004, he had his sights set on law school in general, and Texas in particular. I was pretty settled in my DC life — I hadn’t ever lived anywhere else. In a few short weeks, it became clear — he was moving to Austin, and so was I.

I didn’t have a plan, and at the time it felt like I was giving up a lot to make the move. It was exciting, but scary. I was dazzled to have B in my life and be so sure about that puzzle piece, but felt a little crazy giving up what seemed like so much. But I jumped in with both feet, and life has been one amazing ride.

Eight years later, we met Snickerdoodle. As we have done with a handful of foster dogs in the past, we started joking a few days into his stay with us: “I’m going to keep him.” Only the more we joked about it, the more we realized that we weren’t sure if we were joking.

Obviously, the Dude fits in to our family quite well. Our own Chick took to him pretty much right away, which is a real rarity for him. Over the past weeks as we’ve walked into a room to find them laying on top of each other in a sweet, napping dogpile, we’ve gotten to thinking — is it possible that we have chosen the Dude for ourselves, and Chick chosen him for himself, too?

As with any other big decisions, this one comes with consequences. The biggest? The fostering career that we have put so much of our hearts into will have to go on hiatus, at least for a while.  As much as we love the idea of a houseful of dogs, we just can’t properly care for more than two — the Chick and one other.

This scares us a whole lot in some ways. Because everything will be different. And it excites us a whole lot in other ways. Because everything will be different.

Stay tuned to follow along on this ever-wild ride.



Through the safety of a big picture window

Through the safety of our big antique window, the boys sit and watch the world go by.

When it rains, they stay clean and dry. When it’s chilly, they stay toasty warm. When the boogieman (aka the UPS man) comes calling, they are protected by the thin, clear pane. When a neighbor’s adventuresome tabby cat struts by to dig in our garden, they can only stare intently.

They wiggle their tails in greeting at the mailman and the neighbors, and paint runny-nose-messages on the glass to the other dogs walking with their owners. When we hop in the car or head down the street for a run, their little eyes, noses, and ears are peering intently at us, beckoning us to come home soon. When we return, the boys are roused from their peaceful slumber by the sound of the key jingling in the lock, and their curious foreheads pop into view, like groundhogs checking on the weather.

Chix-A-Lot Friday: I am a really big deal (and another package for the Doodle)

I already suspected that I was a really big deal because of the way people always dote on me and tell me how handsome and clever and charming and sweet and soft I am. But now I KNOW I am a big deal. Wanna know how?

Well my foster brother Dude is sick with the heart-eating worms, so he’s been getting lots of extra treats and pets and packages in the mail from blog-friends. But here’s the thing: I am not sick with any kind of worms at all, but I am also getting extra treats, pets, and packages! Obviously there is no sickness-reason for me to be getting special things, so I must be getting them just because I am such a big deal — right? And believe me– I am not complaining.

Last week we got another package in the mail from one of our blog readers, a nice lady from a cold place in the North. Her name is Kate. Mama gets packages all the time with business stuff and rescue stuff and shoes and books and other things, so I didn’t think much of it. But the second that package came through the door and I gave it a quick sniff, I knew. I could smell that the address label said not “Mama” but “Sir Chick and Snickerdoodle” on the front of it. Hooray for me!

So the Dude and I stared her down patiently waited until she opened it. And when she did, we couldn’t believe our eyes. We were so amazed by how beautiful the insides of the box were that we nearly forgot about the jars of treats that were underneath all the beautifulness. Mama must be some kind of magician because she took all that beautifulness, untangled it, and hung it on the wall, until it looked like this:

I bet you don’t even know what that is, right? Well I will tell you! It’s like an advent calendar, only for counting down not till Christmas, but till Dude has officially kicked all of his wormies!

There is one card for each day between last week and the day that the Dude can officially play tug-of-war and go running with me.

Inside each card, there is a happy thought for them people, and another for us dogs. Like this. (I will let you guess which happy thought is for them humans and which is for us dogs):

And boy oh boy, our gift-giver sure did hit the nail on the head! How did she know that mama loves lunchtime margaritas, and that we love packages in the mail with doggie treats inside? She must be a mindreader!

So every evening, mama plucks another card off our Dude-vent calendar and grabs two cookies from the cute jars that Kate sent us, and we go into our very favorite room– the movie / office / dog / guestroom / home of The Dora. Mama asks me and the Dude to lay down on the rug, and reads us our happy thought for the day. Then we each get a cookie.

We can’t get over the yumminess of the cookies, the thoughtfulness of our blog friend Kate, or how beautifully our Dude-vent calendar matches our favorite rug in our favorite room. Mama says nobody has ever done anything quite so creative for us before. She even got a little leaky-eyed when she opened up the package and saw all of the beautifulness inside and read all of those words on the big piece of paper. And now eveningtime is our favorite time of the day! Thank you Kate, we just know that Mr. Dude’s recovery is going to speed on by!

Chickerdoodle cookies to mend a dog’s heart

The party just doesn’t end for the Dude and the Chick, does it? The gorgeous, hand-knit scarves they received from a special facebook fan aren’t the only gift the boys received to help Doodlebug heal from his heartworms. The other day in the mail, we received another package — this one from our dear blog-friend Alana (and her two beautiful pit bull type dogs, Molly and foster-ish Brodie). Check out this package full of treats!

They’re not unappreciative, but the boys passed right over the toys: a soft, fuzzy, squeaky heart for the Dude to serve as a role model for his own ailing heart and a rope toy for the Chick-man so he can get out his crazies playing with mama and dad instead of bugging his brother who has to remain calm for the next six weeks. Why did they ignore their lovely new toys? Because of the scrumptious, handmade cookies that Alana, Molly, and Brodie made for them.

Fantastic, right? They even look and smell like human snickerdoodle cookies — but these are a special creation just for our boys — Chickerdoodles!

A seasoned mama to big, block-headed dogs with a huge appetite for cookies, Alana must have known that treats are the absolute best way to get a couple of greedy boys to pose for photos with their bounty.

A big thank you from Texas to Alaska for the goodies, friends!


A little gift to raise the spirits

It’s been rainy in Central Texas lately, which is a real blessing. We’re in the midst of a historic drought, so a little bit of moisture for the earth makes us pretty happy.

It’s also been raining gifts and surprises in our house over the past few weeks, since the Dude was diagnosed with severe, late-stage heartworms. We’ve been amazed at the kindness and generosity of our blog and facebook friends, who have sent cards, notes, emails, photos, and even a couple of little packages to help the Dude make it through his nasty ten-week treatment (and help the Chick be the sweet, loving big brother he needs to be).

A few days ago, we got this package in the mail from our facebook-friend Rachel from Tumball, Texas:

It was a beautiful card with a historic photo of a pit bull type dog dressed up in a jaunty top hat, pipe, and party suit, and a pair of custom, hand-knit, perfectly sized scarves! Naturally, the boys –who LOVE to dress up — couldn’t wait to wear them on the first chilly occasion they god, and pulled them out this weekend for the 10-minute “snow” storm we had.

The scarves are so cozy and chic that they make the boys feel like 1920s artists and writers, sitting around at an outdoor french cafe drinking cognac and tea, arguing about love and politics!

Thank you Rachel!

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