Lazy Dog Days

Last night after I had finished all of my Sunday duties (during my busy season of work, Sundays are spent preparing for the week ahead) I decided it was too nice outside not to enjoy. I think Allie had the same thought because as soon as I grabbed her leash, she knew. It was time for a WALK!

I’ll admit, I do not walk my dog as much as a should. But, she is a pretty decent walker considering her lack of daily exercise. I thought we would just walk about the block once and come back in, but we decided to keep walking for about a half hour. She loved every minute of it, and so did I.

However, this morning she was so tired from our walk the night before, she would not get out of bed. Now this isn’t something that should cause too much alarm. You see, Allie can sleep in. She is not the type of dog driven by her stomach. She doesn’t get up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast. She loves sleeping in and sleeping in on my bed with her head on her pillow.

If you are not a dog person you might be horrified at this thought. But, Allie is family to me, so if she wants to have her own pillow, she gets one. She doesn’t even mind if I cover her with a blanket.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided on Saturday morning that I was not going to set an alarm. It had been a really long week at work, and I decided getting as much sleep as possible before the start of the next week was in my best interest. Just as it is for most adults my age, “sleeping in” means until 8 am. I tried to watch TV for another hour or so just to keep myself resting, but I finally had to get up and take a shower. Allie on the hand had no problems sleeping. I had already showered, fixed my hair, and I was beginning to eat my brunch when she finally opened her eyes and decided ok, I’ll get up too. I looked at the clock. It was noon – lazy dog.

After living with and watching my dog for the last nine years I’ve realized in my next life, I think I would like to be a dog. What a great life that would be! People would always get excited to see you. You get to lie around all day and soak in the sun on the back deck. You get all of the leftover pizza crusts, and on special holidays, someone will give you a Frosty Paw.

Yep, a dog’s life I will have. That’s the kind of life that will make you grin!

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You Can Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

Whenever you get two dogs together you never know what to expect, even two dogs who are together more than they are apart. Allie and Porter never cease to amaze me. The two have taught each other so much over the last 8 years. Sometimes it’s even the little things that us humans don’t pick up on until weeks down the road.

Here’s a great example –

Every time someone in my family has a birthday, we celebrate at my parents’ house with a dinner of the birthday person’s choice followed by cake and ice cream. Of course both dogs are there to celebrate too, and they both get their ice cream (Frosty Paws) so they can join in the celebration. After years of singing Happy Birthday and then having dessert, we started to notice the dogs would automatically start licking their lips and run to the freezer door every time we began the happy birthday tune. It turns out, they put two and two together. Happy Birthday song = Frosty Paws.

Well this became extremely entertaining to us, and we had more fun with it than we should. In fact, now we sometimes just sing Happy Birthday to watch them begin their lip-licking routine. Of course we have to give them Frosty Paws each time, but it just cracks us up.

Another reaction they have seem to taught each other is to howl every time a siren from a fire truck or ambulance goes by. I don’t ever remember Allie ever howling before she started spending so much time with Porter and vice versa. The best example is when you have both of them in your car and an ambulance drives by. They think it’s their job to get the word out to the other dogs in the neighborhood. They howl so loudly and look so serious when they do it, I can only laugh. They take their alerting the neighborhood job very seriously.

I think watching these two dogs together proves that everyone needs a buddy and a partner in crime. I don’t know what I would do without the these two. They make me grin.

I’ve posted some videos on YouTube so you can get a better feel for these lovable dogs and their new tricks.

Watch on YouTube: Allie and Porter love their Frosty Paws

Watch on YouTube: Allie and Porter “alerting the neighbors”

Cottontail Catastrophe

It happened again! Almost four years to the date, and a mama rabbit decided my yard would be a good place for a nest. It just so happens, Porter my parents’ dog was also spending the weekend with us. Of course I had no idea we had newborn bunnies in the yard, but boy, Allie’s nose sure knew the minute she got outside.

I was settling down in my comfy patio furniture ready to soak in some sun on that beautiful Saturday when all of a sudden I heard terrifying squealing noises. This time, I knew right away it was the sound of baby bunnies being pulled from the nest. It’s the most disturbing noise I’ve ever heard.

One by one, the dogs began pulling these poor defenseless bunnies out of their nest. At least this time I was much more prepared. I quickly grabbed both collars of the dogs and got their attention. It wasn’t easy, but I finally got them back inside. Then I had the hard task of putting these poor babies back into their nest. We lost a couple of them along the way, but I think I was able to save a few.

I also decided these babies wouldn’t be safe with both dogs unless they were constantly supervised when outside. I decided to build a defense mechanism for these bunnies using patio furniture. While it looks awkward, I think it worked. The dogs are very confused every time they walk by.

All I can hope is that the mother has returned, and that she knows our yard is off limits for baby nests in the future. I hope it’s more than four years before this happens again.

Although it’s not really a reason to grin, I will knowing that these dogs just followed their instinct and didn’t know any better.

Dog Days of Summer

At the age of 24 I had a house, a dog, and a cat. The three of us spent a lot of time together during the day since I anchored the evening newscasts. We had a routine, and every day we followed it. For the most part, our days were boring. The nights were even more routine and mundane since I would work until about 11 pm. By the time I would get home, they would greet me, I’d give them treats, and we all would go to bed. That was every evening almost like clockwork. Until one interesting night.

I always loved having visitors, and this particular Friday night, my mom and my sister came into town for a fun girls’ weekend. They even came to watch the 10 o’clock newscast in person. By the time we got home, we decided we could stay up for one more glass of wine and chat before hitting the hay to get enough rest for a day full of spa treatments and good conversations.

This particular weekend also happened to be during the dog days of summer, and yep, cicadas were flying everywhere. Allie at the time loved to try to catch them and eat them while she was outside. My cat, Georgie, never really got the full experience of catching these gross flying bugs…until that night.

Now, one thing you need to know about Georgie is I used to call him a ninja cat. He was fast and quick, and could catch any kind of bug or small animal. He was very focused.

So, after my mom, sister, and I got home and I poured the wine, we let Allie outside. When she came back inside, so did a cicada! If you have never had the unfortunate experience of dealing with cicadas, they are huge black and green flying bugs. Because they are so big (about 2 inches) they are very slow. They really don’t cause any harm; they are just gross and annoying.

Well this two inch cicada threw my household into a frenzy. Georgie was so excited, he was huddled on the ground getting ready for his move, and then would jump so high in the air it was like he was flying. Allie was barking and running around the house trying to catch it. We realized we needed to get this cicada out of the house as soon possible. My mom grabbed the broom and started swinging. Finally she made contact, and it came falling down to ground, only somehow it slipped under the oven. Well there wasn’t much we could do at the point, and we assumed it was dead so we went on with our drinks and conversation.

About an hour after everyone one was in bed, I heard a buzzing noise. That cicada was coming back to life and had crawled out from under the oven. Both Allie and Georgie jump out of bed and start chasing that bug around again. They woke up my visitors, and all we could do was laugh. I think Allie finally ate it (gross!). Poor Georgie. He was having so much fun and the dog had to ruin it.

At least my sister and mom can laugh about their abrupt awakening now, and it gives me a story to tell and with a big grin at the end.

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Allie and Georgie 2009

It’s a Family Tradition

While I may treat Allie as my child and best friend, she wasn’t my first four-legged friend. Growing up we had a family dog, a chocolate lab named Annie. Now Annie was a great dog for busy family of five. She loved driving carpool, taking road trips, basically being anywhere the family went.

She watched over each of us as we grew from grade schoolers into teenagers. She even knew when it was time for each of us to go off to college. I remember the night before I left. I was about to move into the dorms with a roommate whom I didn’t know at the time (turns out her name was Annie too, and we became best friends), and I was very nervous. Somehow Annie (the dog) knew I was leaving. While she normally slept in my parents’ room, that night she didn’t leave my side. She was the comfort I needed before leaving home.

I like to think all of these years later Allie is the dog she is today because of Annie. By the time Allie came around, Annie had lived a pretty good and long life. She was 14 at the time. I was living in Joplin, working in broadcast news and had just bought a house and a dog. I felt like I was finally an adult. My mom came down to visit and to help my decorate my new home, and she brought Annie with her. Poor Annie. She was definitely not prepared to spend the weekend with an 12 week old puppy. I was afraid that Annie would somehow think she was being replaced. After all, I wasn’t living at home anymore. I had a home of my own, and she was always very intuitive like that.

This is something only real “dog” people will get. Animals really have a sense of what their purpose is in life. They know when they need to protect or cheer up their owners. They also know when it’s to pass the baton on to the next pet. I think that is what Annie did that weekend. While she didn’t love the attention of Allie the puppy, she tolerated it. She showed Allie how to get in her kennel, and she seemed to smile even while Allie was biting her face.

Annie lived a few months longer, and when she did pass away, I was at peace, and I think she was too. I can only hope Allie feels the same way when it’s her time (hopefully not anytime soon).

I know I tend to try to make these posts funny and entertaining, but today I felt the need to tell that story. While it makes me tear up just thinking about those memories, it also makes me realize why our animals play such an important role at all points of our lives. It’s what today, makes me grin.

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Annie was so tolerant of little Allie.

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Allie really looked up to Annie.

#NationalPuppyDay

In honor of National Puppy Day, I thought this week I would tell you a story about my two favorite puppies, Allie and Porter. Allie you already know well, and I’ve mentioned Porter in posts before. Well, Allie and Porter spend a lot of time together. When I’m traveling for work, she stays with my parents and Porter. When they decide to take a trip, Porter stays with us. Each time is an adventure.

Porter is a great dog, but he is a little simple compared to Allie. He is about 80 pounds and will lie on top of you in front of the TV if it gets him more attention. I constantly catch Allie rolling her eyes at him and his goofy antics. They two of them are best buds.

One spring weekend afternoon Porter was at our house. I had just finished mowing the lawn for the first time of the season and was milling around the yard trying to clean it up a bit as some of the flowers were beginning to bloom. The two peas in a pod were busy chasing squirrels and birds, when all of sudden I saw a cloud a grey fur flying through the air.

There was so much fur! But, the texture was very different. I finally was able to see through the hazy poof when I noticed Allie and Porter were pulling that fur from a hole in the yard. They had discovered a rabbit’s nest full of baby bunnies! I was stunned. I had no idea what to do. The last thing I wanted was for the dogs to get into a fight over their findings.

After staring in a state of shock for a few minutes, I knew I had to take action. By now, all of the fur had been removed and Porter had a baby bunny in his mouth. I went after him. Luckily, he didn’t want to hurt it, but he was so proud of his finding. He immediately opened his mouth, and I used the dog pooper scooper to put it on the other side of the fence. I turned around. Now Allie had one in her mouth. I took that one away again with the pooper scooper, and then Porter had his second one. Well you can see how this continued until I finally got all eight babies onto the other side of the fence. It was one of the most intense situations I have ever been through.

I took the dogs back inside, and I finished up my yard work. That poor mama bunny returned later that afternoon. I didn’t have the heart to tell her what had happened. I hope she found her babies.

As for the troublemakers, I’m grinning today because that situation has never happened again!

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Allie and Porter – Best Buds

Murphy’s Law

Every small market news station has a team of experts around ready to work whenever equipment breaks or goes haywire. At my station, we had Franklin and Bert (names have been changed to protect their identities). Both were retired military entering the golden years of their lives, and were probably the most entertaining characters you could find in the newsroom.

While both men were more than capable of doing their job, technology was changing at a rapid pace. It was hard enough for me, a twenty-something recent college grad who was taught the newest programs in video editing, to keep up. I can’t imagine how they were able to do so. But, they did their best.

To give you a mental picture of the duo, Franklin was easily 6 ft. tall and maybe around 250 pounds. He seemed massive compared to Bert who barely stood 5 ft. 4 in. and scarcely weighed 100 pounds. The two would get to the station early in the morning, have their morning coffee and talk about the good ‘ol times. Around noon they would begin piddling on whatever project they had going on that day. Here is where the entertaining part came in. They fought and bickered like an old married couple, getting louder and louder as the day went on. Who knows what they projects they were working on. I never asked questions. I just enjoyed the humor.

After they finished their project for the day, it was time for lunch. Every day was the same.

Franklin: “Ok, Bert, I think I’m about done. My stomach is rumbling.”

Bert: “Ok, Franklin, yeah I’m getting a bit hungry too. Let’s head on over to Golden Corral.”

EVERY DAY! Every day they had lunch at Golden Corral, and every day their lunch “hour” lasted from about 3:30 until 5:30.

It’s Murphy’s Law in the news business. Our show began at 5:00 pm. So, what time would you assume all the equipment would break? Yep, right about 3:45 pm every day. Right after Franklin and Bert had left to go Golden Corral. So every day we would have to call up to the Corral and talk with Sal at the hostess station.

Me: “Hey, Sal, can you tell Franklin and Bert we need them back at the station. Then entire board crashed.”

Sal: “Hey, Franklin, they need you.”

Franklin: “What, they don’t need me. Just tell them to turn the power off and on.”

Sal: “She said they already did that, and they giggled the thingy five times.”

Franklin: “Ok, well I’ll finish my plate and head back. Come on Bert, those kids can’t do anything on their own.”

While I appreciate Franklin and Bert bailing us out many times at the very last second, my blood pressure never went back to normal during those years. I mean, did they really have to take their lunch break every day at the exact second we would need them?!?

About seven years later, my blood pressure has since returned to normal, but I can still remember that panicked feeling wondering if we would have a 5 o’clock show or not. Sometimes we just made it under the wire. One time, we really didn’t get through and just had to go to commercial break for 15 minutes because none of the buttons on the board worked and all that kept coming up on the screen was me and the outline of the opening.

But, now that those days are gone, I do miss them. It was amazing how a team could come together when you really needed them to, and I really enjoyed Franklin and Bert’s stories. They were great guys…as long as you weren’t on a deadline.

Remembering my old work family today, makes me grin. Never again will I have those wonderful experiences. Today, I remember them fondly I as sit and look at old pictures, Allie beside me.

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The “legendary” board. Yep, it was from like the 1950s

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Allie was a great mascot for the news team and went to every parade!

Sturdy Sedan

Today my trusty, little 9-year old corolla reached its 180,000th mile. It was a big “milestone” for me as well. I know some people are quick to name their car, or call it a she or he. I am not quite like that with my car, but besides my dog, it’s been my closest confidant since 2007. That car and I have traveled every corner of the state of Missouri together. We have traveled outside the Show-Me state too, across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Together we have shared tears, laughs, and lot of good songs (mostly musicals).

Back in my broadcast news days, it was a four hour drive to get back home to my family. I usually traveled back at least once or twice a month. When I would drive back home, I would never go alone. I would pack up my tiny, sturdy sedan with not only me, but my dog Allie and my cat Georgie. I know what you are thinking. OK, dogs usually love a car ride, but a cat?

Georgie was no ordinary cat. He was of the manx breed. Those type of cats tend to have longer bodies, no tails or very short tails, and truck drivers love them. They are a breed that actually love car rides. I was fortunate because the three of us spent a lot of time in the car together over those three years.

One car ride home, however, was more exciting than the rest. About halfway through the drive, Georgie, who was normally content riding in his carrier in the back seat, began meowing extremely loudly almost in a panic. I looked back but couldn’t tell what was wrong. I finally had to pull over. Well, poor guy must have gotten sick as he left a mess all over his cage. He was so upset and didn’t want to sit in the filth anymore. I was on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere Missouri and had no idea what to do. I decided to let him roam free in the car. He luckily made himself comfortable and sat quietly for the remainder of the ride. We never had any problems after that.

Another memorable moment riding in the car is the time my aunt and I decided to drive through a blizzard to visit my cousin in college. Now, we didn’t know we would be driving through a blizzard when our trip began, but once we were in it, we had to keep driving. What would have normally been a five hour drive became a nine hour drive with me and my white knuckles on the steering wheel keeping my eyes wide open! There is much more to tell about that trip, but I’ll save that for another day. Moral of the story is – my little white corolla kept chugging and got us there safely after driving on impacted highways in Indiana.

I made a promise to myself to not let this poor car run itself all the way into the ground. I promised myself I would find a new owners before reaching the dreaded 200,000 mark. Today is the day I have decided, it’s time. I will begin to look for a new (most likely) corolla that I will not name, but will be ready for the next miles ahead, in this crazy road I call life. But, the day I sell it, I will not cry although I will want to. Looking back at all of our wonderful experiences, it will just give me another reason to grin.

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Allie my copilot

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Hitting 180,000 (sorry pictures is so blurry)

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Allie and Georgie – notice he has no tail

Miss Grace Rears Her Balanced Challenged Head

After my days in broadcast news, I began working at a college as a community relations specialist. I spend many days traveling around the state to high schools, giving presentations about technology and the future. This was still in the day before everyone had iPads and tablets, so to be successful giving my presentation, I had to carry around a laptop (with no wifi by the way), a projector, forms to fill out, plus extra batteries, pens, and miscellaneous items that would help me better connect to students. Needless to say, I carried a lot of heavy junk everywhere, every day.

Most days I didn’t mind the hefty load. I could usually find a close parking spot, and I would take the elevator if the school had one. One unfortunate day a few winters back, I was at a school that did not have a parking lot nearby, and to get to the front door, you had to go up steps, lots of them. Not discouraged yet, I parked my car, gathered my gear, and began my long trek up to the front door. About the same time, students were also making their way to class. 

With my stuff in tow, I began up the flight of stairs. To this day, I’m still not sure what happened. Perhaps my ankle rolled. Maybe my bulky bags threw me off balance. What I do remember is tumbling down nearly all of the concrete steps. My bags went flying. Pens rained down to the ground. I hurt a crack and prayed it wasn’t the thousand dollar projector. Once I finally stopped falling, I realized I had about 20 high school students who had the entire incident. To save myself from extreme embarrassment, I quickly stood up only to find out my ankle was seriously hurt which caused me to sit right back down on the concrete steps. I forced the tears back. I really didn’t know what I was going to do next. 

As I sat there for a minute, not a single student offered to help or asked if I was ok. They definitely stared for bit, but then they went on about their day. At that point I didn’t know if I was more embarrassed or mad that no one cared to help. Somehow I was able to crawl to get my bags and struggled back up the stairs. I was able to finish my presentations, and then I called it a day.

Beaten and bruised I came home to put my feet up, when there was Allie. My best fur friend was smiling and so happy I was home. It was like she knew I had a bad day. Instantly I was no longer frustrated or mad. I was home with my buddy. It’s something about dogs. They really know when you are hurting. Only she could put a grin on my face that day.

In case you were wondering, my ankle was completely fine the next day. I think my ego was more bruised than anything!

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Allie’s concerned face always makes me feel better!

Cleaning Day Overdue

My current job allows me to have regular contact with fairly new-to-the-market journalists, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. I love hearing their stories and seeing their bright eyes walk into the office to interview my boss. It brings me back to those days when I was 23, on my own for the first time, living in a city that was unfamiliar to me. I wouldn’t trade those days, good and bad, for anything.

Every once in awhile I get asked what I miss most about my time in my small Missouri city. My answer – people! I made some good friends in my four years there, and each one left a huge impact on me. I was recently given the chance to visit a few of my former “family” members in their new cities. Each one has grown up to be interesting and successful adults. Some with families, and others enjoying the life they have created.

This week I will share another story from those wonderful years in my early 20’s. The station I first worked at as a weekend anchor/reporter was a bit old-fashioned when it came to equipment and amenities. Not that I minded. I kind of liked the old style newsroom with all of its quirks. It gave that station character.

Some of the highlights included the dark, dimly lit edit bays. At the time, we still used tape-to-tape editing, a sort of antiquated way of editing packages that they no longer taught in school in the early 2000’s. I had to learn from scratch how to edit on these archaic machines my first week on the job. Once I got the hang of it, I actually started liking the old-style of editing stories.

Besides the outdated editing machines, it seemed like these edit bays were always full of old scripts, broken pieces of equipment, and the occasional leftover trash from someone’s lunch the week before. I’m not really sure who was in charge of cleaning up the edit bays, but I sure wasn’t going to be one to volunteer for the job. One weekend, just a few of us were there preparing for the Saturday night show, when my weather anchor decided to edit her sweeps piece. Here’s a little background on her – we will call her Susie to protect her true identity. She was from Arkansas and had the most wonderful Southern accent. The two of us got along great and shared many crazy nights producing the show together. Well, just as quickly as Susie walked into the edit bay, she quickly “jumped” back out with a very concerned look on her face.

“Whoa! It smells like something has died in there,” shrieked Susie (imagine the Southern accent).

I laughed and figured it was just probably a leftover Big Mac no one cared to throw away and went on producing the “B” block. Our young photographer, let’s call him Shrimp Boat (that actually was his nickname) decided to investigate this abnormal smell. Shrimp Boat and a camera operator were brave enough to start sifting through the old papers, pieces of metal, and trash to find what was causing our noses to crinkle. Then all I hear next is an “AHHHHHHH”. The two of them come out carrying what looked to be a dead rat. Yes, not a dead mouse. A dead RAT!! Who seemed to be very full and plump probably as result of eating the leftover Big Mac. In fact, maybe that’s what killed him in the first place.

I immediately screamed and jumped onto my chair. I told Shrimp Boat to take that outside to the dumpster, but first get a picture. We needed evidence. Of course the next day everyone said we were overreacting, and it was probably just a mouse. Once they saw our picture proof that it was indeed a RAT, the unsettling and gross feeling came over the entire newsroom.

The edit bays were cleaned out the next day. I still don’t know who cleaned them, but the smell of Lysol and bleach brought a nice grin to my face!

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The gross dead rat – 11/12/2006

 

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Our initial reaction to the discovery

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Allie wasn’t alive then, but I figured you need to get that rat picture out of your head. Allie enjoying the beautiful springlike weather – February 2016