Chix-A-Lot Friday: Living with a teenage Doodlebug

The other day it was nap time, and while I was doing this:

my Doodlebug was doing all this:






And then I changed it up and did this for a while:


And Doodlebug carried on like this:





And then just as I was getting seriously comfortable like this:

He started up with all of this:



I think I’m gonna have mama crate train him so I can finally get some beauty sleep. It’s hard living with a baby Bug!


Give a little bit . . .

Give a little bit of your love to Catalina Stirling.

photo courtesy Catalina Stirling

Co-Founder and Director of Jasmine’s House Rescue in Maryland, Catalina’s name entered countless American living rooms through Jim Gorant’s bestselling book about the Michael Vick dog fighting case, Lost Dogs. Catalina’s patient, loving work with Sweet Jasmine — the most shut down of the Vick dogs released to rescue — was neither the beginning nor the end of her involvement in dog rescue, but rather a pivot point.

Catalina spent six months on the enormous-yet-tiny task of coaxing Jasmine out of a hole in her back yard, and many more months celebrating baby steps together — always moving forward. It was a precious, rare, patient, selfless love. After Jasmine died unexpectedly in 2009, Catalina filled part of the hole in her heart by opening Jasmine’s House Rescue with partner Kate Callahan. They envisioned a safe and gentle place for dogs who were dealt a bad hand in life to recuperate and learn to trust once more. And they built it.

photo by Mary Kate McKenna

photo by Mary Kate McKenna

What strikes me most about the good folks at Jasmine’s House is their unwillingness to turn their backs on the hard cases — the dogs who will cost too much to heal and be too difficult to adopt out. Where most rescues make careful calculations about who they can and should take, Catalina operates — to a great extent — on courage and gut.

When I walked into the Montgomery County Humane Society last August and met Little Zee, a 9-year-old pit bull with a mysterious neurological condition, I sat with her for a long time, making promises I was not sure I could keep. My eyes welled up with tears at her likely fate, and in a last-ditch effort to be true to my word, I called Catalina. She said yes.

Little Zee was pulled by Jasmine’s, and what followed was amazing. A massive fundraiser that raised more than $4,000 toward Zee’s care, a surge of popular support for our little elderbull, a record-quick adoption, and a lasting, treasured friendship with Catalina.

Since we moved away, Jasmine’s has continued taking heroic actions to save the dogs who need it most (including our other former foster, Stevie Wonder, when she was given up by her adopters), and extended their reach beyond direct rescue and into community education. Project Mickey — a humane education program that brings Jasmine’s House dogs into inner city Baltimore schools to teach lessons about kindness to animals and each other — stands out as a particularly needed and beautiful effort.

photo courtesy Juliana Willems

I met up with Catalina — and rescue coordinator Heather Cole — for coffee while home in DC last week. It was lovely to catch up. Catalina and Heather told me all about their latest endeavors, their new dogs, and — unfortunately — their financial plight.  True to their mission to help the dogs who draw the short straw in life, Jasmine’s House has recently taken in two very sick dogs — Sunny and Isis. Sunny has late-stage heartworm that will be sensitive and expensive to treat, and Isis has severe pneumonia — which requires intensive steam treatments, regular vet visits, and costly medication. Neither dog’s case is the dramatic kind that inspires heroic acts or donations — they are just sick dogs whose road to recovery will be long and slow, and whose vet bills are high and unexpected. For both of these lucky dogs — like for many others —  Jasmine’s was the last chance.

Sunny. Photo courtesy Jasmine’s House.

They could have said no — they have 20 dogs in rescue, many of which have medical and behavioral issues of their own, and funding in rescue is always scarce. But they said yes.

Stories like Catalina’s remind us of the power of vision, heart, and courage to move mountains. And how beautiful it would be if vision, heart, and courage were enough to soothe all the world’s pains. But money is the magical, scarce ingredient that keeps rescue dreams afloat. The financial support of those of us who believe in this work is what keeps it going.

So if you are able, on this fine summer day, please give a little bit. The dogs thank you.

Chix-A-Lot Friday: Let’s be gentle, not judgmental

Confession time.

Mama used to walk me on a prong collar and a retractable leash. She would let me run wild, hit the end of the line, and correct myself with those icky metal prongs poking into my neck. She had no idea how to control me, and it never occurred to me that a retractable leash + prong collar combo was not a good choice. Before we went to see a quality trainer, the combo and the leash jerking that was “teaching” me how to not pull had rubbed most of the beautiful white furs off the front of my neck.

My best friend and uncle, Tex? He is from a breeder. Yep, that’s right. Mama, my grandparents, and my aunt Kareaux decided they wanted a dog 10 years ago, so they did what they knew was the best way to get a good dog — they researched breeders, found a good one, and bought a puppy. A beautiful, 8-week-old black lab from working lines named Tex.

For years and years, mama never clipped my nails. Never, ever, ever, until they were so long that they making my toes kind of squoosh to the side when I walked and ran. I didn’t like having my nails clipped, so mama didn’t clip them. It was not pretty!


Mama used to let me hike off leash illegally, even though I am not always totally reliable when she calls me. She would let me run around, eat deer poo, sniff other hikers and bark at their dogs, and then get annoyed when people gave her dirty looks or yelled at her to put me on my leash.


Mama once carelessly left me and my Tex at home together with some kongs stuffed with the yummiest snacks you can imagine, and we got into a scuffle when she was not at home, even though we are best friends. Mama not only broke the golden rule about not leaving dogs unsupervised with prized resources, but she didn’t even know about the rule.


Mama used to make broad generalizations about me and other dogs who look like me, even though she didn’t really know for sure. She would say things about how we have more jaw strength than other dogs and can’t feel pain, and say that she thought maybe I was a bait dog before she adopted me.

And yet — despite all these confessions — most people would call now mama a relatively good, responsible dog-lover. How many of us have judged her — or somebody committing one of these confessions — in the past? It’s so easy to judge another person or dog based on a snapshot — a single story, a random encounter, a bit of gossip. It’s much harder to do the humane thing and reserve judgment. We are all in different points along our journeys, and it is human — and canine — to learn at our own pace and make mistakes along the way.

So why not try a little gentleness on this fine, summer Friday?


Chix-a-Lot Friday: We scream for ice cream

Well as you may know, it’s summer here in Texas. That means we have most of our funs inside in the air conditioning or early in the morning or late in the nighttime or in the lake swimming-style. And sometimes we go in the truck and help mama and dad run their errands. Sometimes their errands are what they call “real” errands, like picking up the dry cleanings and going to the hardware store to look at small shiny things. And sometimes their errands are what they call “fake” errands, like this one.

Mama and dad have a favorite place that makes pagan ice creams (that’s the kind with no eggs and no milk in it). And what do you know, this week they made mama’s favorite flavor, lemon! So all of us people and dogs loaded up into the truck for a little fake errand.

The Dude and I, we were both excited to go to the fake errand place and get some lemon ice creams.

But then we got there and dad went inside to get the ice creams, and when he got back out, he only had two. So we waited patiently, thinking surely he only had two because unlike us dogs, he only has two paws. We figured he would set the first two down and go back inside to get two more. Extra peanut butter on mine please! I requested.

But no. No third and fourth ice creams materialized for me and the Dude! So poor us had to just sit there while mama and dad ate their pagan ice creams and barely let us even have a nibble of their waffle cones. Mama even taunted us with her waffle cone. Just look how delicious it smelled and how mad I was when she did not offer me a big lick:

She let little Doodlebug have a sniff too, and he even almost got a tiny lick on there before she tol him no thank you. But he wasn’t mad like I was. I guess he’s too dumb nice to get mad.

Well when she saw how mad I was, she let us each have a tiny nibble of waffle cone. And let me tell you, it tasted like sugary wonderfulness. It would have been better dipped in fish oil or peanut butters, but it was still pretty good and nice of her to let us have a taste, so we forgave mama for being so mean and not buying us cones of our own. But we sure didn’t take our eyes off that cone.

We also got to pose for portraits and meet some nice strangers. One funny man came out of the pagan ice creams place and saw mama taking our photo, and asked “Are those dogs famous?” And mama said “Actually, yes they are.” Mama said he was trying to be funny, but the joke was on him. We had ourselves a little family snicker about how he doesn’t know the first thing about us Chickerdoodles.

On our way home we took great big naps in our double-dog hammock and daydreamed about ways to convince mama and dad to get us our very own dog cones next time. Sweet dreams and happy weekend, everyone!

Weekend: Stop Hiding and Enjoy

We always love our friend Kim’s weekend photo documentary posts on Yellow Brick Home, and thought we’d try one of our own this week. And what good timing: this weekend’s motto was: Stop Hiding from Summer and Enjoy. We picked back up on walking to some of our favorite restaurants, shops, and coffee spots in our neighborhood. The boys bravely took on the heat and came along — they seemed to enjoy playing ‘city dog,’ lounging under tables at cafes, enjoying falling crumbs and compliments from strangers.

Swimming was on the menu as well, and we headed out to the Blanco River to read books, listen to crickets, hunt for turtles, and float around in the cool green water. Also on the menu? Spending an evening at one of our favorite bars and meeting somebody’s new pet: a tiny, 6-week-old miniature pot bellied pig named Bacon. Only in Austin.

How was your weekend?

Chix-A-Lot Friday: My brother and the sweet potato

So, mama came home yesterday afternoon from the store that smells like food, and she said “Doodlebug, I got you some sweet potatoes!”

And of course I knew that when mama said that, she meant she was gonna put them in the cabinet and cut some of them into chunks and put them in the big bowl with some water and put it on top of the fire-maker in the kitchen. Then after the kitchen was nice and humid and smelling of sweet potato yumminess, they would be ready and mama would put a little slice into a bowl of ice for each of us and let us have a nice snack. And the rest she would save for Doodlebug’s breakfasts and dinners.

But I guess Doodlebug doesn’t know that’s the way it works.

Here’s what went down.

Mama set the bag of sweet potatoes on the floor in the kitchen and took to her forever-task of moving things around on the counters and putting her hands in the water. Doodlebug walked over to say “Hi mama!”

Then he sniffed the air, and thought to himself: “Whoa. Sweet potatoes. My favorite.”

And then when mama didn’t pay him any attention, he thought to himself: “Don’t mind if I do!”

And he did!


Silly Dude. The craziest part was that instead of yelling, hollering, and screaming, mama was just laughing and going snap snap with her camera, like it was funny, instead of a Very Serious Crime. Mama, what gives?

So Doodlebug ran over to his favorite snacking spot and had himself a big ol’ party with his booty.


Then mama finally told him that stealing sweet potatoes was not polite, and he looked at her like: “Who, me?



And then she made him clean it all up while I sat nearby and snickered under my breath. The poor, silly Doodlebug just hasn’t learned a thing about sneakiness from me yet!


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