The dogs which torture the horses at Cloud 9!


These dogs help us train the horses, and at night, when we ride in the forest, we put glow-in-the-dark collars on them, and if we lose our trail, the dogs put us back on the trail again!  FUN FUN!



Meet Cooper, who will be a future 'trail dog'.  When I train the young horses and go on solo rides, they sometimes are afraid to cross creeks or venture forward in scary places.  These dogs run ahead and provide the horses a sort of comfort, and when the young horses see the dogs cross, they go ahead and cross, too.


Cooper is trying to steal some of Bailey's adult dog food on a camping trip on 4/6/09, but his short little puppy legs just keep failing him!  He gets frustrated and decides to have a 'talk' with the dog food.  Later, he torments his 'big brother' Bailey by pulling on his tail and swinging from it. 

That's my riding buddy Tracey talking in the background of the video, who just fought colon cancer and won!  We're so happy to have him back riding with us.













LEFT:  Bailey pretending to be a ferocious Mountain Lion.  RIGHT:  Cooper, pretending to be a big, bad hyena.


Bailey, pretending to have lunch.  (You can barely see Coopers eyes in this picture, and strangely, they don't show panic! 














LEFT:  The standoff.  RIGHT:  The sneaky, dirty, low down attack from behind!













This is the really important part of dueling, you know.  Mean, ferocious saber clashing, but a few 'guy hugs' thrown in, too!


All that hard play and now it's time to ignore my puppy food and steal some of Bailey's big boy food!


Click on arrow ABOVE to see some of the obstacles we put these dogs through (and they love it!) -- that's Jan you hear screaming in the background (at the cold water), riding Motown.














Cooper's first trail ride.  When we got back, we took all the previous pictures of him playing with Bailey, so apparently, this pup is going to be a tightly-wound spring with high stamina!














Bud couldn't resist the puppy's whining and begging . . .



Bud takes Cooper riding aboard Smokey.


This is Bailey, a Border Collie/Golden Retriever cross and our main trainer of horses.  He goes everywhere we go on the trails, jumps off in the creek, the lake, the ditch, etc., swims, cools off and pops up right in front of the horses, shakes and runs ahead of us, around us, behind us.  He has even been known to stand off to the side and count the riders before he runs back to the front of the line again.











LEFT:  Bailey on the beach at the lake on 4/6/09, pretending to be a seal, I guess!

RIGHT:  Back at camp, all clean again!



Click on ABOVE arrow to see how we keep the kids entertained while the adults ride horses!  (Tex makes a flying catch.)


"Which way ya gonna throw the ball?"




1.    Try to buy and bring home your puppy by 49 days of age.  At 7 weeks, puppies have begun to play pretty good and they begin to learn 'pecking order'.  They learn rules of life, discipline from others, and they start to learn this with their litter mates; however, you don't want them to learn that they're alpha or submissive.  These lessons stay with them for life and later complicate training for working.

2.    From 7 - 16 weeks is a critical socialization period.  During this time, your puppy needs to be taken in your vehicle, your 4-wheeler, around your horses as much as possible.  Expose him to thunder and lightening, gun shots, other dogs, crowds, different people, children, etc.  Many times, the dogs who are fear biters were ones not socialized properly during this period.

3.    By the time your pup is 16 weeks of age, he should have been taught to lead, stay tied, and should know these very basic commands, at the minimum: 

        a)    His name;

        b)    Come here;

        c)    No and okay;

        d)    Good Dog.

4.    As soon as possible, he should be taught these basic commands:

        a)    Lie down (unless he is a retriever, then teach him to sit);

        b)    Get in, Get out, or Kennel up.

This training regimen takes some dedication and time, but enhances your pleasure and enjoyment of your puppy.  Be firm and be the Pack Leader -- these commands can someday actually save your dog's life, and at the very least, keep him safe, and he will be a pleasure to be around.  Your dog will love you for it!



On the night of January 13, 2009, we lost our beautiful boy.  Tex absolutely lived to love people, and was my babysitter -- he played ball with the kids and curled up with them to be loved on while their parents rode horses.  He would fetch the ball so many times that he would get hot and then jump in the water tank to cool off, which would annoy me because I have big, beautiful goldfish in there and I didn't want him muddying the water, but I understood that he needed to cool off.  He traveled, with Bailey and me, all over the nation with the horses, and at truck stops, we played ball while the diesel was pumping.  I will miss him, all the kids will miss him, but Bailey will miss him most of all.


God promised at the birth of time, a special friend to give.
His time on earth is short, He said, so love him while he lives.
It may six or seven years, or twelve or then sixteen, but will you,
till I call him back, take care of him for me?
A wagging tail and cold wet nose, and silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors, to love you through the years.
His puppy ways will gladden you, and antics bring a smile,
as guardian or friend he will be loyal all the while.
He'll bring his charms to grace your life, and though his stay be brief,
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth returns,
But lessons only a dog can teach, I want you each to learn.
Whatever love you give to him, returns in triple measure.
Follow his lead and gain a life, brim full of simple pleasure.
Enjoy each day as it comes, allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love, as the dog there by your side.
Now will you give to him all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call, to take him back again?
I fancy each of us would say, "Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joy this day shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run."
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, be forever grateful for his stay.
"But shall the angels call for him, much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand."

-- Author Unknown














LEFT:  Bailey, the furry Python!  RIGHT:  Allie, Riley and Tex take a break from jumping on the round bales.


These guys anxiously await a game of 'fetch' with Riley on 11/10/07.















Tex, shameless and pathetic in his need for affection from anyone he meets.  Chad and Riley oblige him here on a November, 2007 day at the lake.


IRONY [ahy-ruh-nee-An outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected; the incongruity of this.

Irony is going to the Human Society or SPCA to rescue one of hundreds of poor homeless dogs, and being rejected!  Yes, they rejected me because I said I would keep my dogs outdoors instead of indoors.  So . . . I looked in the local newspaper and bought my two dogs from folks who bred them, and as you can see from the following pictures, they have terrible lives and are miserable and suffering -- hope the SPCA doesn't find out!  :)


Thanks, Debbie and Lynn, for this great picture!









This is "Tex", a 'future torturer'!  He is a blue merle Australian Shepherd.


Tex babysitting Eli, a future cowboy!


Summer of '07, after getting their summer hair cuts, the 'boys' (Bailey and Tex) babysitting the 'boys' (twin brothers, Brendon and Bailey).


A man's soul can be judged by 
the way he treats his dog.


I was shipping a horse out to California and the transport company informed me that they would call me when they were an hour away.  They did warn me that it might be ‘a bit early’, as they liked to travel in the cool of the night, and sure enough, they called at 2am, saying that they were getting close. 

Since I lived on a dead end street and I expected the transport rig to be large, I agreed to meet them at the intersection of the nearest road, so they wouldn’t have to try to negotiate my driveway or street in the dark. 

I dressed, grabbed the travel papers, stumbled to the barn, turned on the lights and readied the horse for his trip, grooming him and putting his halter on. 

As I led him out of the barn, my 6-month-old overfriendly Australian Shepherd pup “Tex”  enthusiastically bounded along with us, always eager to meet any and everyone.  We walked down the asphalt road in the quiet darkness, past occasional street lights throwing huge shadows of our unusual procession, with the horse’s shoes echoing their loud clip-clops, making me cringe as a chorus of barking began to pick up across the entire area.  I lived in a small suburban area near Houston, and hoped that my neighbors weren’t tempted to shoot me as I woke up all their own dogs with my nocturnal parade. 

 I was glad to see the truck was already there, lights glowing in the dark and the ramp already down, ready to load.  The transport driver was a colorful character, 50-ish with a charismatic southern twang, handlebar mustache, cowboy hat, western clothes and cowboy boots, looking and sounding like he just stepped out of an old Western movie.  The only thing missing was a holster and pistols!  Of course, my affectionate pup fell in instant love and immediately collapsed against Wyatt Earp’s legs in a zealous fit of adoration.

Tex is much too friendly for my taste, as he loves everybody and would probably eagerly show a burglar right into my house!  He has lately developed this annoying, embarrassing habit of sticking his nose right into an unsuspecting victim's uh, derriere, and I mean his aim is perfect. 

While Wyatt Earp was busy filling out the transport paperwork, Tex snuck around behind him and all of a sudden Wyatt jumped forward, almost on top of me, as he screamed "Oooohhh", kind of high-pitched like a woman’s scream.  Instantly, I suspected what had just happened, and choked to keep from bursting out laughing.  With dead seriousness and a straight face, I looked Mr. Earp straight in his eyes, and told him that I would admit that I had taught Tex that trick, but I SWEAR I hadn't given him the command! 

Wyatt laughed and stuttered, completely embarrassed, and for the next 5 minutes, couldn't articulate a single word.  We loaded the horse, and when he finally recovered his wits, his parting words to me were, "Have a good night, and WATCH that HOUND dog!!!"











LEFT:  Bailey and Tex swimming in Lake Rayburn on a beautiful November, 2007 day;  RIGHT:  Bailey pondering life on a Kentucky mountain top on 10/10/07.













LEFT:  The 'boys' and me on Plane Crash Rock in Virginia on 10/13/07.

RIGHT:  Bailey, descending the mountain with us, before he got completely covered in cockleburrs, in Virginia on 10/13/07.













Lynn (from Connecticut)'s little Aussie taking a quick nap behind the saddle at lunch break on 10/10/07 in Kentucky, and her Pappillons at right.


Extreme happiness!  Don't you just love dogs?

"Lou" -- a blue heeler rescue pup with a broken hip that we picked up in Tennessee, brought home and found a Texas family to adopt her.


Bailey 'helping' train colts (Tex is up ahead, out of view of the camera) on 12/2/07










LEFT:  Tex at Lake Sam Rayburn on January 25, 2006 after rolling in the sand, and RIGHT:  Taking a momentary break after bounding through the forest, following the horses for a couple of hours.

July, 2005:  Tex has been up to it again.  This morning I looked out the window and saw him standing by the road, watching all the neighborhood men show up for work at the alligator farm next door.  I could tell that he had something hanging from his neck, and all the guys were laughing at him.  He was absolutely delirious with joy at all the attention he was getting.  (This was around 6:30 this morning.)  When I went outside to feed the horses, he joyously came bounding over to me with a huge grin on his face and my WORKOUT BRA around his neck.  I must have dropped it from my luggage when I got back from my trip, and I had been looking for it everywhere.  Everyone is telling me that I am in for the long haul with an Australian Shepherd.  Little booger!









"DJ" -- the matriarch of the farm, a "Texas Heeler", a cross between a Blue Heeler and an Australian Shepherd.  Her contribution is mostly barking, since she (being spayed) stays too fat to go on long trailrides.  We had her for 12 years . . . if you have lost a cherished pet, click on her picture for a wonderful bit of consolation.







Two young pups (Tex and Bud) at play


Two Wolves 

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. 

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'



One of the greatest secrets of life is having patience ... knowing when to do what, kinda like the song says, 'you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and when to run.



February 20, 2005:  Today, after riding for 5 or 6 hours, we ended the day sitting on the ground cross-legged (Indian-style), with paper plates (definitely NOT Indian-style), eating ice-cold coconut cream pie from Althea's cooler.  We had three dogs which we had to scold to make them behave while we ate our cream pie. 
Bailey (pictured at LEFT), probably 160 IQ, has been scolded many times by me for playing too roughly with the puppy and for chasing horses, but he tries his best to behave and please.  His personality is the most human-like I've ever known in a dog, and you can easily read his emotions on his sweet face.  He can be naughty, but he's always sorry!
He knows he is supposed to stay back from the picnic area and not pester us while we're eating, but it was just too much terrible temptation to expect him to wait for a taste of that good-smelling whipped cream!  While I was talking to someone to my left, Bailey was slowly and stealthily Army-crawling his way to a couple of discarded plastic forks that still had some whipped cream on them.  I was unaware, and he knew that I was distracted, but he still kept glancing from me to the forks while crawling on his belly toward them.  One of my friends whispered to me to look to my right without turning my head, and just as Bailey reached his goal, picked up one of the forks and turned to make a hasty exit, I glanced over at him, and he immediately dropped the fork like it was a hot coal.  I never had to say a word, but I was choking to keep from laughing.  He instantly forgot about the fork and spent the next five minutes sucking up to me, leaning his body against me and trying to lick my face.  What a ham! 



ANOTHER BAILEY STORY:  We have had Bailey (the Border Collie/Golden Retriever cross) since he was 3 months old, and he is used to lots of freedom.  He prefers to run along beside the truck when we go from house to office or carwash, and since we live in a really rural area, traffic doesn't usually pose a problem. 

A couple of months ago, we took the Harleys from the house to the carwash to clean them, and Bailey followed us.  Gary opened the door to the control room while we were there, and while I was washing the bikes, some friends drove up in their car.  We all decided to go to a restaurant about 30 miles away for dinner, but what to do with Bailey?  Gary decided that we would blast back past the house on the Harleys, and we would be so fast that Bailey would just go home.  We left in a hurry, and the plan seemed to work, because Bailey was running his heart out behind us, and the last we saw him, he had slowed down and was watching us from the driveway of the house. 

About 15 minutes down the road, Gary motioned for me to pull over, and asked me if I remembered whether or not he had closed the door to the control room on the car wash.  I told him that I had been wondering the same thing, so he called his dad to run down to the car wash and lock it up if it was open. 

When we left there, about 3 people were washing cars, and the control room houses all the controls, chemicals and the MONEY, so it was amazing that we were both so absent-minded that we left it open.  However, when Gary's dad got to the carwash, about 20 minutes after we left, he was amazed to see Bailey sitting in the middle of the doorway of the control room, standing guard and growling at anyone who walked by.  We still can't figure out what made him go back to the carwash, when the house was much closer.


Titus the Wonder Dog!  This Jack Russell Terrier is amazingly smart, cute and has a personality to die for!  His talented owner has taught him many, many tricks and you may see them one day on TV.  Titus does all the regular stuff (sits, stays, lies down, rolls over), but he also prays, jumps through hoops, reads sign language, plays dead, crawls, hops like a bunny, and my favorite -- he SNEEZES on command!  (Jennifer asks him if he has a cold, and he will respond "Ah-choo!")  She has also taught him to ride, and sometimes he takes the reins.  He can back a horse like the best of riders!  


Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God: When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?

Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We do love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the 'Chrysler Beagle?'

Dear God: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

Dear God: We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God: Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good dog.

1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.

2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.

3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.

4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.

5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.

6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.

7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'Hello.'

8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table.

9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.

10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.

11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch.

12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy' so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back?



My all-time favorite doggy picture!:


* Although cats are rather delicate creatures, and they are subject to a good many ailments, I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.

* Dogs and cats instinctively know the exact moment their owners will wake up. Then they wake them 10 minutes sooner.

* Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

* Dogs shed, cats shred.

* I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult?

* No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.

* Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

* I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

* Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

* We wonder why the dogs always drink out of our toilets, but look at it from their point of view: Why do humans keep peeing into their water bowls?

* Women and cats will do as they please ... men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

* When a man's best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem.



The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves

-Josh Billings
The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.
Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
-Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three
times before lying down.

-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have
known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.

-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your
pocket and then give him only two of them.

-Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.


"You want me to do what???"



(I am not sure who the author of the following story is, but I loved it and wanted to share it!)



Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.

 Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.  Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?"

The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Maybe we should all be more like dogs.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply, Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Click on arrow ABOVE to listen to a wonderful conversation regarding the loss of a cherished pet or loved one.


I liked this story so much that I decided to include it on this page, even though my research reveals that it may not be a true story.  Doesn't matter to me . . . I'm sure that there are heartbreaks for our soldiers related to the loss of their loved pets just like this one, and whomever wrote this did a good job on this poignant issue.  Warning:  Have tissues nearby!

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie,
as I looked at him lying in his pen..  The shelter was
clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere
I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.

Everyone waves when you pass them on the
street, but something was still missing as I attempted to
settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog
couldn't hurt.  Give me someone to talk to.

And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local
news.  The shelter said  they had received numerous
calls right after, but they said the people who had come
down to see him just didn't look like "Labpeople,"  whatever that meant.  They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, b
ag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennisballs, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.   See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home.  We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home).  Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls --- he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in
his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.  I guess I didn't really think he'd need
all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in.  But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd  follow
them - when he felt like it.  He never really seemed to listen when I called his name --- sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever.  When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work.  He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes.  I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.  The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff.  I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest
room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog probably hid it on me."

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter...I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home.  But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that?   Come here and I'll give you a treat."   Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction --- maybe "glared" is more accurate --- and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down.   With his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either,  I thought.  And I punched the shelter phone number.

But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope.   I had completely forgotten about that, too.  "Okay, Reggie,"  I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice.".... .....

____________ _________ _________ _________

Whoever  Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner.  I'm not even happy writing it.  If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.  He knew something was different.  I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong.  And something is wrong...which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it
will help you bond with him and he with you.  First, he loves tennis balls.
The more the merrier.  Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them.  He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.  Hasn't done it yet.  Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it by any roads.  I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands.  Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again:  Reggie knows the obvious ones ---
"sit,"  "stay,"  "come," "heel."  

He knows hand signals: "back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your
hand out right or left.  "Shake" for shaking water off,  and "paw" for a high-five.  He does "down" when he feels like lying down --- I bet you could work on that with him some more.  He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like  nobody's business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats.  Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule:  twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six inthe evening.   Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He's up on his shots.  Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due.  Be forewarned:  Reggie hates the vet.  Good luck getting him in the car --- I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time.  I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life.  He's gone everywhere
with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.  He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain.  He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you....

His name's not Reggie.

I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie.  He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt.  But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name.  For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again.  And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine.  But if someone else is reading it, well ..... well it means that his new owner should know his real name..  It'll help you bond with him.  Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change
in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is "Tank".

Because that is what  I drive.

Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news.  I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.  See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone...
call the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.  Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed.  He said he'd do it personally.  And if you're  reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog.  I couldn't imagine if I was
writing it for a wife and kids and family ... but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things ... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here.  If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I  am glad to have done so.  He is my example of service and of love.  I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough.  I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter.  I don't  think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though.  I cried too much the first time.  Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his

Good luck with Tank.  Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - everynight - from  me.

Thank you,  

Paul Mallory

____________ _________ _________ _______

I  folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.  Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me.  Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and  posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.  Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows onmy knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said  quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

"C'mere boy."

He was  instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.  He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.

"Tank," I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.  I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.


"It's me now, Tank, just you and me.

Your old pal gave you to me."  Tank reached up and licked my cheek.  "So whatdaya say we play some ball?"  His ears perked again.  "Yeah?  Ball?  You like that?  Ball?"  Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.

And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his  mouth.






What happens when there is a tree shortage!

Aw . . . he looks like he just lost his mommy!














Could we REALLY be mad at these little fellows?  After all, we probably went off and left them home alone -- that'll teach us!


Somehow, 'ferret' never comes to mind when I think of "bliss" . . . but, as they say,  one man's trash . . .












The Adorable Collection














If you looked in the dictionary under "adorable", this is what you'd find!


Whew!  That was hard work!












Uh oh -- look what they found in the coffee!



I have a feeling that the next move will NOT be on the board!












Serious business!






Does it get any more precious than this?








Oh, I can barely stand to look at this picture!



The story that goes with this picture says that this firefighter just saved her pups from a fire.












More "awwwwwwwww's"


This poor dog looks completely humiliated.


The cutest screensavers!




Not dogs, but just too cute to omit!


Why dogs hate Halloween:


P. O. Box 878
Hardin, Texas 77561

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