February 5th … until March 5th – one month you have been gone!

February 5th … until March 5th – wow how time flies! And I still miss you My Little Man!

It has been difficult – a month fraught with sadness, anger, guilt, loss – new hope, good days, fun memories & gratuity.

In the grand scheme – things are good. Days at the shelter have been fun and engaging. Play is very much back at center stage. I drifted away from that for a while and I am not sure why. Smoke put me in check: “play Mamma, you gotta pplllaaayy!” 

My friend Judy and I are the process of developing an obedience class for the many people that have requested that service from me. We have done some soft runs with willing friends and the feedback has been extremely positive and encouraging.  My focus is to help dog owners to develop and maintain a relationship with their dog that is based in rules & boundaries, but doused with tons-a-fun! Classes will start right after tax deadline and run one month: 2 classes a week. We shall post schedules and times in the next few weeks. Please let Judy or I know if you have any interest. A perk for the shelter, is that we will keep two slots open for volunteers to bring shelter dogs gratis! I need to get moving on the marketing for this class! 

The Pit Stop is moving along – we are in the process of welding the permanent kennels together – actually, Mitch is welding and I am typing. That pesky “we”. In the Pit Pen (the play yard), I am cultivating patches of grass that are interspersed throughout the wood chips, which in my mind, adds to the comfort and beautification factor – a dog pen does not have to look like one. Oh yeah, I am going to sow some spring wildflowers around the perimeter of the outside of the building, which will soften the use of chips and gravel as general landscaping material.  The insulation, sheet rocking, painting and general cleanup…and yes, the signs still need to go up. Building The Pit Stop has been a labour of love and I cannot wait to see it start wrapping up, so that I might invite people down to see it. 

So Smoke, things are happening. Your legacy lives on. Every day there is a comment about something that you showed or taught me or someone else. You have been a treasure in my life! I found a little girl that looks just like you and I have put out some feelers and am waiting to hear back. You can go and see her at:  http://www.rocketdogrescue.org/happy/  What ya think?

What does a week do..?

What does a week do? Not much! Smoke is still gone and it hurts!

Pictures makes make me teary, as do the heartfelt condolences from friends and acquaintances and even those that I have never met. Cards from friends ignite another flood of tears. Getting the boys ready to leave for work in the morning evokes a: “Jack, Duke, Taz, Smoke – come let’s go!” Darn…no Smokey and more tears. This evening I prepared their food…I had prepared a 4th bowl, which was one too many. Heard a dog barking next door and my heart started racing ’cause it sounded just like Smoke. Beverley, Smoke is gone! Cheryl & Sammie’s Friends made a beautiful collage of Smoke that I am going to hang down at The Pit Stop, along with a memory box with his collar, dog bowl and a few other items. He is gone!

So, moving forward. Now, I get out of bed in the morning with more verve…’cause Smoke says I have to! I have incorporated more fun into the work that I/We (my assistants) do with the dogs at the shelter. Smoke always looked at the “fun side” of everything. Chica is thriving on this! as is Zeus, Brendan, Bridgette & Zeke. Pairing dogs that have the potential to play with each other is paramount! It is by far one of the most important social skills that a dog can develop – and develop is the operative word. It can be taught!

So, the days will come and go and so shall the sadness.  Smoke has been one of the great gifts in my life and I shall not let let that gift fade into the distance. He has had a profound effect on me. I want him to be with me every step of the way. By teaching the dogs that I work with to be joyous & playful, mischievous & engaging – I can have his legacy live on.

“I miss you my little man!”



Day 2…woke up this morning, closed my eyes and wanted the day to go away. As I lay there contemplating the day (that I wanted to go away) I wondered: “So, what would Smoke do”?

I imagined his brilliant eyes piercing into the back of my head, saying: “Mamma we got work to do, we got dogs that we need to go and help…let’s go!” He was always ready for the next adventure and with that, I popped out of bed.

I did my morning chores in house (feeding, watering, walking, etc) and also down at The Pit Stop, where I am rehabbing four other dogs. Then, I got ready to load up Jack, Duke & Taz (mind you, I am vary aware that there is no Smoke anymore) into the Dog Wagon-Bronco to do their daily work at Sammie’s Friends/Shelter. I found that I had (probably in my grief) left the ignition on in the Bronco the previous day. Battery dead!! I looked up at he sky and wanted to scream at whom-ever is seemingly running this messed-up show…up there. I stopped!

So, what would Smoke do?” (S,WWSD)  hmmm! Smoke, in his indomitable way would say: “New adventure Mamma, let’s go. The jumper cables are in the tool shop down at The Pit Stop…let’s go!” We got to Sammie’s…and we did our work!  It was a good day, a day without Smoke, but a day that was productive: helped Brenden with some pup issues, Ritchey with obedience, Bridette went for a walk with Sam…it was a good day. Smoke was in my heart & mind at all times: remember he would Run on Cue? I think I taught Brenden how to Run on Cue today! We shall have to test that tomorrow!

My heart hurts still and will for a while. I am so humbled by the out-pouring of love from friends…Thank you so much!

I miss you “my little man”.

I lost a buddy today…

I lost a buddy today: he had shiny grey fur, long muscular legs and piercing eyes that said “what ya want me to mess with now, Mamma?” This wonderful buddy was my Pit/Dane mix – named Smoke.

Compromised by parvo and being in a shelter as a pup was not heading him off to a good start. One day I arrived at the shelter to do my work there. Smoke had started to spin in his cage (not a good sign for any dog – even less so for a puppy) and voila! I had a perfect reason to take him home and make him better. My idea was that he would hang with my big dogs, learn good manners and gain confidence and then we could find him a home. This and more occurred: Smoke developed a very balanced play skill from Jack (the lab/newfie). Jack was firm with his admonishments and caring with his mentoring of Smoke. Taz (the Staffie/pit) did not put up with much of Smoke’s crap either, but again was very skilled at delivering good doggie do’s-&-don’ts to Smoke. Then there was Duke (bordercollie/mcnab) who completely ignored the little punk for at least a year. Smoke was settling in and I had visions of pack member #4, but thought that the 3 that I already had were enough. One day Cheryl nonchalantly asked me if I was going to keep him and my vision became reality.

Smoke had verve for life that one does not often see in “man’s best friend”. Not that it always went smoothly with him: he had his punk moments, but with stronger guidance from me and the rest of the gang, he blossomed into a phenomenal young dog. His claim to fame was to begin play with other dogs on cue and to teach other dogs with play skill deficits how to play. He became a master at it – deftly deflecting clumsy play maneuvers from other dogs and in the process helping these dogs realize the art and fun of dog-play. Jack continued to give him pointers here and there.

On “play” cue, Smoke taught me that play is a very important part of dog behavior and he was a joy to watch. On a “run” cue he would run the crazys around the yard, as well “speak” on cue. Sounded like Chewbacca more often than not! He always was having fun or looking for the next fun.

He has left a hole in my heart, but the determination to carry on his work with other dogs and maybe even, one day, pick up another little scrapper for my existing 3 boys to turn into another – what was, a marvelous Smoke. You will be sorely missed “my little man”.