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Running Circles Around St. Peter and the Pearly Gates

PearlyGates500k_aquabluejay_deviantartShetland Sheepdog (Sheltie, Miniature Collie)
Origin: Scotland
Size: Medium
Group: Herding
Life Span: 12-13 years
Active, playful, affectionate, gentle, intelligent, alert, lively, loyal, reserved, trainable, responsive, strong, a very good shepherd, hardy, in good shape, a wide field of vision, loyal, intelligent, reliable.

Spunky died in November of 2014. His pack still misses him a lot. He had all the Sheltie-typical traits listed above, plus Spunky-specific tendencies, such as …

  • Learning about stairs and Post-it notes,
  • Eating JUST the pepperonis on unattended pizzas,
  • Walking backwards and barking when his favorite humans talked to him,
  • Being rambunctious, yet standing statue-still when someone was petting him,
  • Running giant, open-field figure-8’s with his sidekick Jasmine … flaunting impressive speed and elegance, almost as if they’d been choreographed,
  • Making room for Simba,
  • Preferring to stay inside on hot summer days, chilling under a shady desk or near a breezy air-conditioning vent, and
  • Unlike Jasmine – who considered the postman and other strangers her nemeses – befriending pretty much everybody.

Spunky showed up unleashed when Jasmine was accustomed to being an only dog. Jazz sometimes seemed annoyed by having an exuberant “be my friend, be my friend, pleeeaase be my friend” puppy around. But they grew to be buddies and – even though Jazz would never admit it – we think she liked having company. Especially whenever the humans abandoned the pack and left the two feisty pups home alone. spunky_lawnchair_cu_bw_cr

Jasmine and Spunky outpaced their breed’s average lifespan, and each lived to be 14. Not a bad run. That’s almost 100 in doggie-years. Many pet-lovers believe God will recreate their pets – memories, personality quirks and all – in Heaven. If so, the dynamic duo of Spunky and Jasmine are no doubt together again, running jubilant, arthritis-free circles around Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates.

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Smoky the 4-Pound, 4-Legged War Legend

by Spunky

A Memorial Day tribute to veterans and the loyal war dogs who encouraged them … especially through times of turmoil.


Smoky knew over 100 tricks. Unfortunately, talking wasn’t one of them.

In earlier posts, I may or may not have referred to that little red-headed Yorkie in my pack as my nemesis.

But we’re learning to get along. Especially now that my best-buddy Jasmine has gone to that big sunflower field in the sky. (I’m pretty sure there are no squirrels, cats or mail-carriers there.)

Actually, for a small overly inquisitive breed, Yorkies aren’t all that bad. Case in point is a famous little World War II era Yorky named Smoky.

She became part of WWII legends. She helped to shed light on war dogs and the role of man’s BFF during wartime and its aftermath.

In the midst of the war, a GI discovered Smoky in an abandoned foxhole in New Guinea. The smart, amiable and conveniently portable pup was small enough to fit into a soldier’s helmet, boots or duffel bag.

Smoky was soon adopted by another GI, Bill Wynne, an aerial photographer. He took the pup wherever he went, including 12 air-rescue missions. When Wynne was hospitalized, his buddies brought Smoky to visit. This cheered up Wynne and other wounded troops as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Calm Panicky Pets (and their Owners)

Panic-Free Pet

Spunky and Jasmine never met their adopted cousin Whiskey. He was a beautiful, whiskey-colored mixed-breed dog who resembled an Irish Setter.

Whiskey’s Irish Setter appearance may be why he received a card one St. Patrick’s Day. It featured a photo of an Irish Setter. The handsome dog sported a green button that read: “Pet me, I’m Irish.” Whiskey’s clever owner responded on Whiskey’s behalf. The reply included a similar button, customized for Whiskey. It read: “Pet me, I sortof look like an Irish Setter.”

Whatever his heritage, to say that Whiskey had separation anxiety and abandonment issues would be an understatement. He was simply heartbroken and often terrified when his trusted pack of humans left him home alone. The occasional thunderstorm only ratcheted up his terror level to sad and often frantic proportions.

One day, during a particularly severe storm, Whiskey literally broke through a glass pane and survived his impulsive leap from a second-story window.  After that, his veterinarian prescribed a sort of doggie-Prozac for future use during especially traumatic circumstances.

Thundershirt™  May Help Panic-Prone Pets Read the rest of this entry »

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Safety Tips for Fireworks and Pets. (Spunky Says Ditto-Arf!) Fireworks Safety Reminder

If you’re a pet-fan, you know that fireworks can scare some furry friends into a full-fledged anxiety attack. A few easy precautions can keep the festivities going with minimal trauma.

Just ask Spunky. One Fourth of July while vacationing with his pack, a loud burst of fireworks spooked Spunky and sent the panicked pet bolting into unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, he was eventually found hiding in someone’s garage, to the great relief of Spunky and his pack.

Bright flashing lights and thunder-like noises can cause even the bravest pets to panic. They may even run away from their home. reports that July is the busiest season for shelters trying to rescue lost pets. During fireworks season, simple precautions can help everyone enjoy the celebrations while preventing scared or lost pets.

The site offers a few simple steps for an unfrazzled Fourth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jasmine’s Day Off


Canine moral hazard: When the trash smells like strawberries …

Jasmine works hard … and occasionally plays hard, too. She likes a lot of things, including margaritas. Strawberry margaritas to be more specific. How do we know that she likes strawberry margaritas?

Let’s examine the perp and the evidence:

One wide-eyed, “Who, me?” pup with a distinct swagger (and a hint of a stagger), one seriously chewed-up trash bag, a trail of scattered garbage and coffee grounds, coffee-colored paw prints, and teeth mark punctures in small strawberry margarita foil drink packets that were thrown out earlier.


Fortunately, she survived her gateway drug and binge-drinking experience unscathed, possibly thanks to the challenges (and metallic taste) of chewing through Mylar. Jasmine was okay, untraumatized and without the need for Alka-Seltzer in her water dish or a 12-step program for canines who can admit they have a problem.

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Spunky, unleashed

pawprinttalkdogSpunky is a feisty little Sheltie who intruded – slowly but surely – upon his step-sibling pup’s territory. Jasmine, the elder, had been QOH (Queen of the Household) before an adorable little perky-eared puppy showed up and charmed his way into the pack.

Spunky’s name suited his energetic disposition. He was friendly, curious and prone to animated “barking back” when spoken to.  Jasmine was a teenager in doggie years when Spunky invaded her domain and stole the hearts of her humans. But the dogs soon learned (grudgingly) to “sit,” “stay” and be friends, although they never did learn to “share” their food.

Although she’d never admit it, the consensus was that Jasmine really did enjoy having a little canine company around, especially when her humans left her home alone.

Spunky Ditches Leash, Catches Free Ride … and a Snooze

I remember puppy-sitting newbie Spunky one winter day (he and Jazz had been dropped off earlier via a heated car ride) and trying to walk him home with a leash. He’d wouldn’t budge. We were only about 6 blocks from home. But it was a long chilly 6 blocks. On this cold, icy and windy January day, a freezing mist was blowing around, not quite yet snow.

Jasmine, knowledgeable teen and former QOH, was unfazed by weather and familiar with the whole leash-thing. She was ready to speed-walk, visibly impatient with the insolent new puppy. But Spunky held his ground, morphing from Cute Amiable Puppy to Mule-in-Chief and Sit-in Leash-Protester. He resisted all manner of cheerleading, coaxing, firm tugs or stern commands.

The little leash-wearing dog stood in the cold rain and held his ground, refusing to budge.

As the wind blew colder, I resigned myself to picking him up with my one free hand, with Jasmine tugging on her leash on the other. I carried the content little puppy as Jazz pulled at her leash, preferring to run. Jasmine and I walked home facing into an icy cold and windy wintertime rain.

leashes_closeup_250Spunky, meanwhile, was toasty warm, totally relaxed and content to have won the battle of wills. He settled into the folds of the down-feathered jacket and promptly fell asleep, becoming distinctly heavier as we walked.

He snoozed away the rest of the trip home and likely dreamed of using leashes for what he considers a far more logical purpose: chew toys.

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