A Tribute to our Sweet Princess

I have long been convinced that of all the animals God created, dogs were especially created to be invaluable friends for mankind…I call them “hairy angels.”

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Our sweet Princess was indeed an angel.  In fact, our vet remarked that usually dogs named “Princess, Angel, Precious, Sweetie….” were anything but, and that our Princess was a nice exception to that rule!

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Indeed, she was!  I have owned and loved many dogs over my lifetime, but never have I owned or met a dog with a sweeter disposition than our dear Princess.

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Captain of our oldest son’s kayak

When we first got Princess, I told myself I would somehow not get attached to her. She would be the kids’ dog and I would take care of her and love on her, but remain unattached to avoid future heartache…yeah, right.

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For thirteen plus years she was our sweet little companion, and up until the last 7 years of her life she shared us with our two other dogs, and, unfortunately, she was at the bottom of the “pecking order.”

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After our oldest dog, Noah, and then her father, Smokey, died, she was our sole dog and the recipient of all of our human love, which she gladly returned a thousand times over.

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As for me, not getting attached just didn’t happen.

 We had to say goodby to our sweet girl, my empty-nest dog, in April, much earlier that I had hoped, and I still miss her more than I can say.  I wrote about Princess’ back-story in a previous post, but if any pet deserved a special goodbye post, it is her.

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Twilight on the creek with youngest son

Two days before she went on, we had our first and only kayak ride together.  She normally rode with one of the boys on their paddle board, but this day it was just she and I, and she left me with sweet memories of a morning together on the creek, searching out an eagle’s nest.

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cooling off after one of our summer-time walks

And so, this dog that I somehow would remain “unattached” to has left me with many precious memories, and a longing for many more morning walks together with my sweet little buddy.

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Thank you, Sweet Princess…you wiggled into our hearts and left your mark on us that will never be erased.  We miss you, the creek will never be the same without you, and we will always love you and remember you with smiles…

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♥ Jen

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”
—Rudyard Kipling (author, The Jungle Book)

Someone sent me the following video…and though many will find it unbelievable, it brought me a lot of joy and comfort… 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbjYQ_uors8

The Beauty of Stillness

dsc_0112.jpgIt is a quiet Sunday morning as I write this.  The air is cool enough to leave the door cracked just slightly, allowing the sounds of nature to flow inside.  The birds are singing their morning songs as they flit around in their busy springtime activities.  A tufted titmouse pair are continuing their gathering of nest-building material for the box just outside my window, while a hummingbird stops to sip at the nectar feeder just below the future titmouse abode.

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Tufted titmouse gathering nesting material

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Gabby cat is enjoying an early morning walk around, simultaneously keeping a lookout  for possible adventure with one eye and the approach of our neighbor’s dogs with the other…

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Gabby amid the jewel weed

 A squirrel enjoyed an early breakfast of sunflower seeds scattered beneath the feeders before attacking the feeders directly. In due time he was joined by two other squirrels that soon gave him chase before they all raced up a tree, resembling a reverse playing of firemen sliding down a pole.

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The male cardinal is visiting another feeder closer to our pond, and the sounds of the waterfall flowing fills the air with its soothing sounds, in perfect harmony to the music of the wildlife surrounding it.

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The creek is at high-tide and is still and deceptively quiet under a misty haze and overcast sky. In the surrounding trees, the birds and squirrels make up for its silence aided by honking geese in the distance, while cinnamon ferns, jewel-weed, and iris decorate its banks as they continue to spring more to life with each passing day.  Somewhere nearby a wood duck couple are certain to be enjoying its serenity, while playful otters and busy beavers are certain to be disturbing it.

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Wood duck pair 

 At any given moment an eagle is likely to do a fly-by low along the creek, or perch in one of the nearby trees watching for fish and other small creatures to fill its stomach and feed its young.

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Harold, our resident blue heron, has yet to my knowledge made his daily appearance, but that too could happen at any given moment and may even include a sighting of  Henrietta, seen accompanying him of late…tis the season!

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“Harold”

Peaches, the cat of unknown origins, who has unfortunately decided to adopt us, draws my eye away from the creek again as he takes up one of his favorite spots beside the pond…much to the dismay of Gabby, and Bitty as well, who is perched beside me now glaring at him from her window seat.

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The cardinal seen earlier is now perched closer to my window, almost hidden in the lush leaves, until roused by a blue-jay who was earlier hopping up and down on a branch above him and making a general ruckus.  For whatever reason, Mr. Jay felt the need to antagonize the cardinal until deciding to fly off towards the creek with the cardinal giving chase.

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In a break from nest-building duties, Mr. Titmouse flies over to give his wife a morsel on a nearby branch, and the lone squirrel is back posing for a picture.

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Our door is now shut and the fireplace is lit to chase off the chill-enticing kitty with its warmth-as my husband and I enjoy the quiet of early morning.  The wood ducks paddle into view, and all seems right with the world.

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I purposefully laid aside my camera for the most part this morning-deciding to add in older pictures later-and purposed instead to just sit still and enjoy all the sights and sounds outside the lens…

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…because sometimes in our single “focused-ness’ of life we miss the peripheral beauty going on around us, and that is a lesson in and of itself.

Until next time,

∼Jen

 Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God…”

Morning Memories…March

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
–  William Wordsworth, Daffodils

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It seems that March this year decided to try a hostile take-over of April…but, despite its many snowy, blustery attempts, April has at long last landed, bringing all its promises of future beauty along with it.  March, of course, had its own beauty despite its stormy attitude, so here’s my look back on this very temperamental month:

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Above, the very loud and large pileated woodpecker, and below, one of our backyard monkeys, doing what they do best.

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A morning walk with my fellow nature-loving neighbor provided the following photos…

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A glimpse in her backyard, where the infamous white cats reside, but I was zeroing in on one of the upside down dead trees she repurposes for bird feeders…

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Another peek in her yard shows some of the many daffodils she decorates our street with…

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I took my buddy, Princess, along for our walk.  I wouldn’t dream of leaving her home, the neighbors love her and sadly our walks are soon coming to an end. 😦  Watching her health deteriorate has been the hardest thing this month, I hope she will be with me for some warm spring days, but she is getting tired so I will enjoy the days we have left and treasure her companionship while I can.

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My dear friend Lesley and I along with her daughter and precious granddaughter attended the Philadelphia flower show.  I don’t have many pictures due to the very large crowds, but this one turned out ok and was a nice sneak peek at spring…

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Of course there were the lingering snow days I posted of earlier thanks to our many Nor’easters…

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The sure promise of warmer days here on the creek are the first wood duck sightings, usually blurred by the distance, but they still make my heart sing!

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Things will only get more beautiful with the blooming of Azaleas right around the corner, but I was treated to an early show of their charm in our recent southern excursion.  For now, I will enjoy the warming days in our area, thankful for the beauty each new day brings.

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Until next time,

∼Jen

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-blog from The Rabbit Patch:

The tender sprouts are an emerald green and do not seem to hold a grudge against the cold February nights, as people often will.  ∼ Michelle, Rabbit Patch Diary

I found Michelle’s blog early on in my blogging and am so happy that I did!  Her words paint such vivid pictures of nature you feel as if you are part of the experience, but what I love the most is she sees the beauty in everyday life…beauty that others may simply pass over.  I asked her permission to reblog her post on “February” and with less than ten days to go in go in this usually unappreciated month, I hope it inspires you to enjoy what’s left of it as it did for me.  Enjoy!!

For the Love of February

“Gladiator Gabby” and Sub-zero Temps.

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“Mom, Gabby has escaped.”

Those were the words that awakened me from my sound, cozy, oblivious to the -1 degree temperatures outside at 2 a.m. sleep. “What? Are you sure?”  Yes, he was sure…and he was, unfortunately, right.

A little back-story on Gabby…

She showed up one hot, summer day at our old home about 6 years ago, emaciated and timid, lurking in a row of trees behind our above-ground pool.  My older son was the first to spot her so he named her Gabby.  Now, I know the rule about not feeding strays, but I just can’t look at an innocent animal, half-starved, and not offer them a bite to eat.  Not sure of her temperament, we put the food down and stayed at a bit of a distance, though we soon found out, that was how she was going to keep us anyhow.

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We continued putting food out for Gabby, and she continued to keep her distance.  I noticed she would follow me, however, whenever I would go into a certain area of the yard and soon found out why.  I was taking care of our pet chickens one afternoon when I felt eyes on me.  Amazing how we can sense that, anyhow, I looked up and saw two pairs of the most adorable blue eyes staring back at me through the bushes to my left.  Gabby was a mom!

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And, what a devoted mom she was! I was ever so glad I ignored the well-intentioned advice to not feed a stray, and she immediately gained my “mom” respect for taking such good care of her kittens even in her half-starved state.  As time went on, I continued to feed Gabby, and her kittens, now weaned, would come out to eat as well.  Only one of the three would allow me to pet her, and she quickly became my favorite.  She was so pretty we named her “Pretty Kitty” and her sister, the shy, feisty one, we named “Bittie.”

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Bittie in her glory days

Fast forward many months… my precious “Pretty” sadly died and my sweet dog, Princess, was now an accomplice to murder. Gabby was just allowing me to barely touch her, and Bittie, a.k.a. “Miss Pris” or “Fussikins” was slowly warming up.  I tried to find homes for the remaining two, as I am more accustomed to dogs, but quickly found out that cats are very hard to find homes for.  I got them both neutered, up on their shots, and added them to our menagerie of two dogs, seven chickens, and one rabbit, oh my.

Bittie soon showed she had no street smarts, literally, so was held captive inside for her own good.

 She has adjusted quite well…

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Gabby would have none of it, so has remained an outside cat to this day.

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She earned the nickname “Gladiator Gabby” after we moved into our present home.  We have a circular stone area below our back porch, and Gabby soon took to bringing her found objects of prey into the “ring” where she commenced to perform her gladiator show.  I and my sons have rescued what we could by a quick knock on the window, and I have to admit, I have secretly cheered as well when a battered mouse or mole escaped her clutches.

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Though she is now trusting of us and sweet, her love of hunting and the feeling of freedom has kept her from wanting to ever be confined to a house.  Last night, however, I gave her no choice. With temperatures predicted to dip to below zero, I lured her in, untrusting that even her heat lamp could keep her warm in that cold.

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I have to wonder if those in the mid-west, or northern states laugh at our reactions to these temperatures and snow.  It reminds me of a Texan friend I had while attending college in Missouri, where it snowed in November and the ground remained white until April.  On our first snowfall as freshman, we, that is those of us not accustomed to such snow amounts, were sure that all college classes would be cancelled. Not so. Leaving the dorm, my Texas friend fussed and fumed as we carefully picked our steps down the sidewalk to our classes.  This was not until after she had called her mother, reporting the un-Godly conditions, that she, her daughter, was forced to face. I’m not sure if she thought her mother could call the college and convince them to cancel classes or if she was just so overwrought she needed to vent…either way, we were soon on our way to face the elements. Now please don’t be offended if you’re from Texas. I love the grit and spunk of Texans, but my dear friend just happened to have a strong sense of fashion, and heels, not snow-shoes (though she didn’t own a pair, thus the dilemma) were more her style.

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But, back to Gabby and her 2 a.m. escape.  She was put into a large, portable fenced area with a cozy blanket, food, water, litter-box, and a cloth covering to surely keep her from thoughts of escaping to wander the house.  She has, in the past, “claimed” a piece of furniture in a way that neither I nor the furniture appreciated, thus the enclosure.  Unfortunately, the fence was no obstacle for Gabby, and in the wee hours of the morning she was off to find another couch.

After coaxing her back into her enclosure, my son and I were quite the early-morning team of “walking” the fence to the nearest bathroom, with Gabby following along inside.  Despite her howls of protests, and a few more escapes, she, and I, eventually fell back into sleep.  I, dreaming of warmer days, and she, I’m sure, of future outdoor adventures.

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Today I woke to -4 degree windchill, but it warmed up to a big °15 by 2:00. School is cancelled for a third day tomorrow, and I’m off to get a much needed 2nd cup of coffee. Gabby got her way and made it out today to play in the snow and has refused all invitations to come back inside, sigh. She is a gladiator afterall.

Until next time,

∼ Jen

Kindness, Courage, Love

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain

In the aftermath of a storm like “Harvey” that my fellow Americans in Texas have recently experienced….the losses, the grief, the pain, one could easily ask, where is the beauty in this?  As with all natural disasters, there is beauty to be found in the kindness, courage, and the love of strangers reaching out to help those in need. That kind of beauty takes precedent over any nature photos I may share this week. I hope you are inspired by the images, reminded to pray for the families affected, and continue to spread kindness and love in your own little corner of the world.♥

 

Love helps the young…

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Man rescues mom with baby

Love helps the elderly, weak and frail….

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Neighbors helping elderly man to safety, photo credit Fox News
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Lady in wheelchair helped to safety

 

Love sees no color…
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Love sees neither male nor female….

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Man rescues lady from home, photo credit CBS News

Love rescues the helpless, human or beast….

And sadly, sometimes love gives the ultimate, one’s own life…

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Police Sgt. Steve Perez 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

∼ Jen

Kayaking at Dusk… Carpe Diem!

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The part of the creek I refer to as “Rivendell”… no elf sightings yet though:)

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”
― Jane Austen, Emma

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Finding pathways through the lily pads…

It was 7:30 at night, the after-dinner mess was mostly cleaned up, and I was joining my younger son on the porch for conversation and relaxation.  After that, my big plans for the night were pajamas and maybe an HGTV recording.  Then, out of the blue he asks, “Want to go for a kayak ride?”

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My son with his river companion “creekdog”

That was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth, and truthfully one of the last things I wanted to do.  It had been a busy day, and my pajamas were calling my name!  I could think of other reasons as well….like dusk was smorgasbord time for mosquitos and, well, I had just downed about 10 ounces of vegetable juice, enough said.

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It took me all of about three seconds, though, to dismiss those thoughts and head for the paddles!  Many of my fondest memories have been spur-of-the-moment ideas with those I love…so many memories I would have missed had I reacted “logically” or dismissed because of not wanting to leave my momentary comfort.

With that in mind, I rounded up Princess-who does love a good paddleboard ride-grabbed the camera, fortified the mosquito spray with extra cedarwood and lavender, and off we went!

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Pure Bliss.

As someone once said, “Spontaneity is the best kind of adventure,” and I, for one, wholeheartedly agree!

∼ Jen

In Memory of our Bearded Buddy, Randall

If anyone ever told me I could get attached to a reptile with a snake-looking tail, I would have laughed at them….then along came Randall.

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Awaiting his masters return from AZ

 My older son had always wanted a lizard, and when he was younger, my answer was always “no way.” That’s because they looked so cold and sneaky, and well, snake-like.  I had absolutely no idea how fun and lovable certain kinds of lizards could be.

 After we moved into our new house, we were out enjoying our local pet store, just for fun, and to my utter disbelief my husband pointed out this Bearded Dragon lizard to my son and suggested we buy it for his room!!  I gave him one of “those” looks, but it didn’t matter…an hour later we were driving home with a new member of the family.

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Enjoying a crawl up the fireplace

His sleeping quarters were in my son’s room, but that didn’t stop him from exploring the house! I really didn’t mind, I could see he was gentle and my son obviously loved him…and more importantly, he wasn’t prone to having “accidents” outside of his cage, whew!

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Not intimidated in the least by “Miss Kitea”

He did cause a little mischief on one of his early explorations when he somehow managed to crawl behind the kick-board in the kitchen and get stuck under the cabinets. Of course, this happened when we were due to meet up shortly with friends…but we couldn’t very well leave a dragon under the cabinets while we were away. My husband finally had to pull out the crowbar, ripping a piece of the kick-board to extract Randall, but the important thing was, Randall was safe and we would not have to keep our friends waiting.

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In the beginning I managed to pet Randall on the head, he liked that, but I was not too keen on the idea of holding him.  I just couldn’t get past that his skin looked so snakelike, especially his belly, and his tail, well, that looked just like a snake minus the head.

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With his special buddy
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On a guided house tour
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Enjoying his bath

I was slightly horrified when my son asked if I would be Randall’s caregiver while he took a senior trip to Arizona for a week, oh dear.  The training began.  I had to get used to holding Randall, not just tossing lettuce and crickets into the cage and checking his lights.

Well, it was wintertime, and for the week his master was gone, Randall and I became Hallmark-watching, fireside companions!

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I would hold him in the evenings against my fuzzy red robe, and he would “snuggle” in till the movie ended.  I would then, reluctantly (can you believe) go put him back in his cage for the night.  Yes, Randall and I were now buddies:)

Of course, I couldn’t be in charge of Randall for a week without giving his cage a little make-over….a woman’s touch so to say:

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Cage before make-over
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Randall suspiciously eyeing “decorated” pillar

We enjoyed Randall for close to four years. During those years, he endured many tail-chasing episodes from our cat, but never allowed himself to trust our dog, Princess.  If she entered the room, he would at times turn partly black, indicating anger or stress, and kept a wary eye on her till she finally left his presence.

We will always miss our little buddy, especially my son, but we have many fond, loving memories of the lizard who crawled into all of our hearts to stay.♥

Randall and Miss Kitea enjoying a “fireside chat.”

♥Jen

 

http://www.thebeardeddragon.org/

Harold’s Nemesis

Who is Harold? Well, if you haven’t yet met him,  you can be properly introduced to him here .  This post, however, will be devoted mostly to his archenemy, and no, it’s not my husband!

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Harold’s rival is a sweet, 91 year-old, blonde beauty, a social butterfly, champion paddle-boarder, creek swimmer, island-explorer (maybe blondes really do have more fun), and self-appointed greeter of all who happen to pass by while she’s out and about in the neighborhood.

She loves to take walks, then cool off in the creek on especially hot days-she has even been known to mud-bathe when the tide is out. She bears the title of royalty, though she’s quite down to earth…she is, none other than, Princess-our lovable, happy, Harold-hating shepherd.

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We got Princess from my sister, who very sweetly took on a male shepherd, his mate, and eleven puppies to find homes for.  We already had a dog, Noah, but he was getting up there in years. The kids were young, so I thought it was a good time to get a puppy they could grow up with and I would have as company when the “empty nest” years hit.

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“Creek Dog”

Princess was the runt of the bunch.  The original owners of the shepherd family said she had to be resuscitated after she was born, so I think she became a favorite, and it is they who gave her the name, Princess.  When we first brought her home as a pup, I remember her being afraid of the dark, and especially a full moon.  However, after her dad came to join us, which is another story, he became her idol and she soon braved-up facing the dark and the moon like a champ!

 I’ve loved many dogs over my life, each special in their own way, but never a dog with a sweeter disposition than our dear Princess.

So why her intense hatred of Harold? We really don’t know. Why he hates her, is quite obvious! He is a grouchy loner after all, but more than that, he loves to hunt in our “backyard.” He will occasionally stroll through on his way to his next hunting spot or stand just off-shore at low tide.

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Upon spotting him, Princess goes into an exceptionally venomous barking rant and runs down to give this foe a piece of her mind.  At this point, anything Harold had been eyeing for breakfast, lunch, or diner has just swum off, and off goes Harold as well, screaming angrily as he does.

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I’ve often thought it’s a really good thing we can’t understand Harold’s language!

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“Cover your ears, mom!”

Princess trots back, happily satisfied that she has once again laid down the law to Harold and, once again, is ruler of all she surveys.

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Job well-done…her father, Smokey, would be so proud:)

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Time for a rest, until the next Harold intrusion.

So now you know all about Princess, our faithful friend and Harold’s faithful nemesis!

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“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”
—Rudyard Kipling (author, The Jungle Book)

….Oh, and by the way, yes, swum is a word 😉

∼ Jen