Sassy Sue wows the bark park visitors with her catching and retrieving.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sassy Updates

Sassy is doing well. She just had a good vet's appointment, where she proved to be very healthy. They are a little afraid of her, because she can make some very quick snapping motions, but she never bites. Sassy is so kindly that she cannot hold her fierce look long - it turns into a smile.

Everyone notices that smile. Sassy does have a habit of barking too loudly when excited about meeting someone. She even thinks that barking in the face of a cat is a warm and friendly gesture. Those who know her realize that all they have to do is say, "Come here, Sassy!" and she is all wiggles and happiness.

Her latest entertainment is to howl during new songs about her. She gets buggy eyed when I start to sing - not from pain, I hope - and howls for the chorus, with her muzzle in the air.

Sassy has a regular routine, which she expects to be followed:

  1. A sunrise morning walk and an afternoon walk. No excuses, except rain.
  2. Two meals a day, plus tidbits here and there.
  3. Night-time begins with a dab of ice-cream, which we call Frosty Paws, a cheap ice milk sold under that name for pets. She gets very little, but she expects it and makes a lot of noise until it is delivered with great fanfare.
  4. A treat has to follow the Frosty Paws. Normally it is a training bit of food or a little bacon flavored wafer. We though Frosty Paws would substitute for the treat, but she insists on both.
  5. She always has a lovey time before going to sleep. Sometimes she growls and demands it. At other times she comes forward on the bed and gives each of us a big hug. She smiles while we pet her and tell her what a good dog she has been.
  6. No animal videos are allowed on the computer, especially dog videos. No matter what I do, she spots them and barks them away. She tolerates graphics but growls at ones that do not please her.

 Sassy took Chris to an estate sale a block away.
That was Chris' first walk after her surgery.

Sassy attended the 50th Moline High Reunion, Class of 1966,
visiting with Toby, Guy, and the Country Style crowd.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Bird Spotted - And Sassy Does an Estate Sale

This young squirrel figured out how to balance on the
Jackson EZ Bird Swing and feed. He did not mind the camera.

This was too funny not to photograph. Readers can see some features of the bird feeding area:

  1. Two hanging bird-feeders, from Lowe's.
  2. Three children's swimming pools, which are bird-baths.
  3. The finch feeder is the green area under the squirrel tail.
  4. Two Butterfly Bushes are greening up. The large one is the waiting room for the birds and the elevator for the squirrels.
  5. The area is covered in cardboard and leaves, but the perimeter has such plants as Chaste Tree, Spice Bush, Gooseberry, Raspberries, and Beautyberry.
  6. One rain-barrel is positioned for the Butterfly bushes. They get the rain, then extra rain from the roof, then a bonus a few days later from the rain-barrel. Three other rain-barrels and four five-gallon paint buckets (totally clean) capture water. Last night's rain gave us two inches.
  7. There are smaller logs around the tiny Butterfly Bush. It may find its size this year.
  8. Larger stumps are planted in the yard. Birds adore having a place to perch and preen their feathers. They also like a watchtower for spotting food rustling in the leaf-mulch.
  9. Stumps and logs also attract toads and foster fungal growth in the soil.
  10. The massive green area is a planting of Elderberry, just behind the squirrel's body.
  11. The Wild Garden is in the back, with many features to screen the view and encourage the birds.

Our teen helper said, "You must have a lot of birds in your yard." Every time I open the back door, about twenty birds and several squirrels scatter.

The greatest pleasure is having an all-day display of birds eating at two windows. A male Cardinal is often eating, three feet away, no longer worried that I am watching him.

Chris took Sassy to the estate sale, with Sassy wearing her
new sweater. Both of them rocked their outfits.

The photography session was over when the doorbell rang. Our neighbor gave Sassy a dog-sweater, which Sassy was eager to wear. We trotted over to the estate sale to show it off. That was 1/2 block trek.

We visited with most of our neighbors on the block - and their relatives - during the Easter weekend.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sassy's New Song a Howling Success

 Photofunia by Norma Boeckler.

I taught Sassy two songs previously. I prompted her to howl during The Cattle Dog Blues.

She gladly barked along to Waltzing Matilda, the Australian song that has nothing to do with a girl or waltzing. Sassy is half-Australian, so I wanted her to learn her culture. She is also half-German, but we don't sing Deutschland, Deutschland, Ueber Alles.

After hearing Jackie Evancho sing God Bless America so beautifully, I came up with a new Sassy song. I didn't prompt her at all, but she added her howls to the climax, sticking her muzzle in the air.

Later the same day, she wanted the song sung twice more.

God Bless Our Sassy Sue
God bless our Sassy Sue
Dog that we love
Stand beside her and guide her
As she walks on the streets that she loves.
Loves the children, loves the doggies, sends the cats right up the tree.

God bless our Sassy Sue (howling starts), she aims to please-ease.
(More howling)
God bless our Sassy Sue, she aims to please.
(The end can be repeated, because she loves to join me on the high notes.)

When Sassy sang The Cattle Dog Blues with me at a tire store, two men copied down her blog address so they could look up more stories about her.

The funny part is that after we sang the first verse, Sassy scratched my leg to ask for the second verse. Of course, her fans were clapping for her and asking about her. They loved the second verse too.

When we sang The Cattle Dog Blues for cousin Peter and his wife Helene, family was gathered with their pets. The dogs added their howls, sticking their muzzles in the air. It looked just like the kennel singing in Lady and the Tramp.

Time-Life listed dogs as a miracle, a wonder of the world. Those who have pets realize how special their dogs, cats, and other animals are to them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Management by Sassy

Our granddaughter and Sassy posed for this one,
after the toying with the chair and spilling.
Both enjoyed the fun.
I felt the gentle tapping on my ankle. Tap, tap. Sassy was trying to tell me something, more like, "Time for breakfast." Perhaps I could sleep a little longer. I ignored the tapping. Next she began to clean my big toe off, banishing sleep forever.

Sassy knows how to manage her staff, with gentleness, humor, and an occasional sharp bark to indicate urgency. She should coach Notre Dame football.

She knows how to be quiet when Mrs. I is still asleep:

  • The steady stare tells me I have work to do - for her. 
  • Licking her jaws makes it clear she wants her morning meal.
  • A high-pitched but soft monotone means something is left undone, such as her morning walk.
I can ignore the walk command when I am writing, but she droops over the corner of the bed, as if giving up on all the delights of the world and resigning herself to boredom.

If I move about the house, she plants herself in my way, so she can give me the expectant or accusing stare. If one does the work, the other is used.

She has mastered the assumptive close that salesmen use with great success:
  1. You touched your socks. We must be leaving soon.
  2. Brushing your teeth? Let's go.
  3. Looking out the back door. No rain. The birds can wait for their food. The front door is this way.
  4. You can pet me while reading the news, but you need your morning walk.
The funniest part of her management style is the insider's humor. She no longer has an antique table to scratch to get my attention, so she scratches in the air and grins at me.

If I guess she wants a treat like Pupperoni bits, she grins as if I am looking smarter than usual.

The ultimate for her is Frosty Paws ice cream She expects some every night. After supper, around 7 PM we hear one high-pitched "Mmmmmm." 

Mrs, I - "What's wrong with Sassy."

Me - "I think I know."

Mrs. I - "Not time for the T yet, is it?"

Sassy watches us back and forth, listening for the clue. We try to be obscure, because mentioning what she wants is a one-sided concession. She will get it - fast. Any verb or noun suggesting her desires will be answered with confirming noises, barks, smiles, and other rewards. Her greatest is a gentle kiss on the cheek, which is not given often - so it means a lot.

Norma Boeckler's Photofunia portrait of Sassy.

Me - "Is it Frosty Paws time?" Sassy goes into a series of faces that blend pain and ecstasy - no loud barking like a walk when everyone is up. I get the plate for her, and Mrs. I dispenses it.

Some will think we are loading her with canine ice cream. But no, I buy the Great Value ice milk from Walmart in tiny cups.She gets about one teaspoon per night and enjoys it so much.

As I wrote earlier, Frosty Paws/Great Value was supposed to replace her Pupperoni treat, but she cleverly urged us into Pupperoni serving as her final treat. Then she falls asleep, content in his knowledge that we understand and obey her wishes. We use training bits, because dogs count the treats rather than the calories. Four little training bits are relished like a feast.

Sassy loves affection, but she sets it up in the most interesting way. Mrs. I cannot get her to move closer for petting. Nor can I just get her over by calling her. I have to pat my hands together softly and say, "Sassy, move, move." She gets up right away and flops down according to her petting needs. She raises a front paw and rolls onto her side to show she wants a chest rub. She makes sure that both of us are petting her and talking to her at once. If Mrs I gets lax, Sassy whips her head around as if to say, "Is your arm broken? Keep petting me." I join by saying, "She expects at least three hands petting her at once and both of us admiring her."

Sassy always looks for new friends instead of alienating old ones. She has he mail carrier calling her by name, the UPS driver giving her large Milk Bones. She has learned to be quiet and not bark loudly when meeting a new toddler to befriend. She is cautious about intimidating adults now, but her whole body wiggles when someone clearly wants to touch her and talk to her.

At the dog park, no dog could compete with Sassy in catching and bringing back the ball,
but all the dogs wanted that magic orange ball that made everyone clap for her.

One little girl is at eye level when Sassy is on all three legs. The girl petted Sassy the whole time I talked roses with her father. The girl was reaching up to pat the top of Sassy's head, and our gentle dog showed how quiet and affectionate she could be.

Rescue dogs may be especially loving, but their lucky owners may be especially appreciative. People thank us for taking care of her. I always say, "We are lucky to have such a remarkable, gentle dog."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sassy Deflects a Traffic Ticket

 "Officer, I was only looking around for a place to stop."

We were getting close to Arkansas when we decided to stop and fill up in Nevada, Missouri.

We got off I-49 one exit early and thought we might connect to Nevada  (Ne-vay-da to us locals) on the old highway. The streets were almost deserted - with an emphasis on almost. Soon a police car lit up behind us and stopped us.

I could only roll down Sassy's window because mine froze up weeks ago. So I began talking to the officer about our search for gasoline. He checked out my pristine driving record (no arrests) and came back without his writing pad. Good news so far.

He was very friendly and asked if he could pet Sassy. I am sure Sassy was giving him those loving eyes she uses on everyone. He petted her a while and said, "I will drive you to the nearest gas station. Follow me."

He took us north on I-49 a mile, the south on I-49, then into Nevada to the gas station, doing a U-turn and driving away, waving.

Singing Our Song

Sassy signals her need to stop with a high-pitched sound, not loud, but distinctive and lasting.

We answered by saying we were close and not to worry. Sassy's Cattle Dog style chattering began with certain mutterings mixed with high-pitched sounds.

Only four or five minutes to Ne-vay-da,
Please don't get wet on the seat
Mama will cry from the mess you make
Please wait longer for goodness sake...
(45 Minutes from Broadway)

Sassy sang and murmured along with me. My mother had us write variations in poems. At the end of her life, after a broken hip, she composed poems on the fly as we wheeled her through the nursing home where she was recovering. The staff was stunned, because she used a poetic meter and rhymed everything as she rolled along.

This is Sassy's response to being in trouble.
"No one could possibly be upset with me."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sassy Has Her Own Blog - And Her Own Best-Selling Books

"First let me sing a song of my people."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sassy Sue Will Be the MHS66 Mascot Again

Dateline - Sprindale, Arkansas

Sassy has agreed to return as the MHS66 mascot. Her fanbase continues to grow as she visits various cities on her travels. She was booked early for the 50th Reunion of the Class of 1966, The Class the Stars Fell On.

Favorite food - Pupperoni, grilled chicken.
Favorite snack - Frosty Paws Ice Cream.

Sassy is a big hit with children and adults, because she gets along so well with three legs. One let had to be amputated after a horse kicked Sassy and her family neglected her. They dropped her off at a shelter and a rescue group provided her the medical care she needed.

Sassy is extremely loud when she is happy, but always gentle with everyone. She makes friends with cats by barking loudly in their faces. That has not worked out well for her.

Small dogs adore Sassy and love to follow her around.

She is an excellent manager and herder. She helped return one lost little boy who was crying on a busy corner. The boy knew her and followed us home, one block away.

Sassy also collected a pitbull named Gucci, who followed us home and into the garage. His anxious owner put the full-sized dog in the car and said, "He is such a baby and he is always breaking his chain."

Sassy Sue's catching and fetching ability left the owners at the dog park slack-jawed and the other dogs jealous of that magical orange ball, which made everyone clap for the three-legged German Shepherd and Cattle Dog mix.

Sassy treats her staff well, smiling when we catch onto her hints.

A rotating tail means displeasure. When the speed picks up, the displeasure is turning into extreme disgust.

Scratching the antique table meant she wanted attention. After the table was moved, she simply began scratching in the air.

Sometimes she will perform the Cattle Dog Blues, either howling for the chorus or barking. Once she got a room full of dogs howling with their snouts in the air. It looked like a scene from Lady and the Tramp. When she performed at a tire store, the customers asked for her blog address.