memories

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No story tonight.  No cute antidote of the girls.  No humorous tale of Dolce sitting on my lap or Amore stealing the kong.   No recipe at the end of my ramblings relating to the storyline.  No deep meaning words of wisdom, quip, or quote.

Tonight, it’s just about memories of our Tiamo.  Remembering the softness in her eyes, her tender nudge with her muzzle to get our attention, her gentleness when she would tend to her litter.  Tonight it’s about reminiscing how she would con me into giving her nightly belly rubs, every night, for 6 years straight.  It’s about her joy to be with us on road trips and trips to the grocery store.  It’s about her companionship to Malcolm and myself and her unconditional love for her “pack”.   It’s about her protectiveness with Thugs, our cat at the time, following her at a close distance to keep her safe when outside.  It’s about how she would flirt with the big male Berners, and show disdain to the little lap dogs, though she was a lap lover herself.

Malcolm and I often play the “remember when” game.  Remember when Tiamo would counter-surf and steal the cookies.  I would blame Malcolm for sneaking a cookie off the cooling rack, when all the time it was Tiamo.  Remember when Tiamo would start barking at 5:10 p.m. on the dot, wanting out the front door to wait for me to drive in from work.  She knew I was due home soon and wanted to wait for me in the front portal, running immediately to the car door as soon as I turned the engine off.  Remember when Tiamo would bust out of the dog pen and run around to the back porch, pawing  at the door to get back inside – how she hated being separated from us.  We abandoned that pen for two years until the puppies were born.

Other times we play the “remember how” game.  Remember how Tiamo would lay her head on my lap, her paw on my leg when she was tired, and other times she would lean so close to us, we were supporting her full weight.  Remember how Tiamo would give us big bear hugs, her huge paws wrapping around our waist, squeezing us hard.  We knew better than to have her jump on us, and yet, we still let her, even encouraging her.  We just loved her hugs!  Remember how we swore we would never, ever let her on our bed.  And, for two years we didn’t, until I broke down and literally picked her up, placed her on my side of the mattress and cuddled with her.  From then on, Tiamo slept with us.

Our “remember whens” and our “remember hows” usually ends with a saddened, “oh, how I miss her”.  Malcolm and I will share a tender smile full of Tiamo memories.  Once in a while, a tear drop will slip past my armor, Malcolm nodding in understanding, silently acknowledging our bitter-sweet memories.  I miss her hugs. Our cuddles, Our belly rubs.

Oh, how I miss her.

 

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TIAMO

it’s here! (almost)

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if it falls on the floor, it's mine!

COMING SOON! 

puppy breath

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a bouquet of puppy breath

a bouquet of puppy breath

When told we were expecting our little litter of puppies, a dear and close friend exclaimed, “aah, I so love puppy breath!  It’s so sweet”  I thought she was plum crazy.  No dog had pleasant breath let alone a puppy.  In the following weeks, several more friends made the same comment in varying degrees.  We heard everything from, “puppy breath is so precious!” to “I just love their little breath!”  to “their breath is adorable!”  Seriously?  What planet are these people from?  It’s a dog’s breath for criss-cross sake.   I would politely smile, but under my own breath,  I would mumble “good lawd” to Malcolm, who was trying in vain to keep a straight face.

It wasn’t until the puppies were old enough to be held and played with that I started to get an inkling of what my friends meant.  With their still pink little noses, at three-n-half weeks old,  our little ones were just starting on softened puppy chow.  They were old enough to be cuddled and held up close against our necks, while we absently rubbed their soft ears.  At five to six weeks, we were bringing our herd of yipping mutts outside to their  playpen to enjoy the fresh air and the still warm fall days.  Malcolm dragged a huge wooden rocking chair into the pen so we could sit and watch the eight little blighters sniff and explore their new world.  As they tired one by one, they would all end up at our feet, ready for a little puppy nap.  Inveritably, I would end up with two or three canine belly balls in my lap, falling fast asleep in my arms, their fat round tummies gently swaying with their soft breathing.  On warm sunny days, Malcolm and I would sit in the pen for hours, enjoying the melodious sounds emitting from the puppies.  Loving the feel of their silky fur, their soft little paws pressed against our arms, their muzzle tucked under our chins.  It was during these endearing moments, that I learned the true meaning of “puppy breath”.

Truth be told, there is something sweet about little puppy’s breath!  The scent is precious, with just a hint of baby puppy.  Taking a deep breath, I smell a little puppy’s trust, I inhale the wonder and  joys of a pint-sized creature filled with faith in their caretakers.  I breathe in the love of a new friend and the loyalty of an old one.  I catch a whiff of an adoring puppy, a devoted dog, a committed canine to its custodian.  Puppy breath is a precious bouquet of entrusting love.

HUSH PUPPIES

A quick and tasty appetizer or side dish, these little guys will disappear fast so make extras.

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced jalapeno
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • frying oil

Mix together the first six ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk  the buttermilk, egg and jalapeño together.  Stir the dry ingredients and milk mixture together.

Add enough oil to a deep medium saucepan to at least 1 1/2 inches.  Using a deep fry thermometer, heat oil to 320F to 330F over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 4 to 5 balls of batter by the tablespoon into the oil.

Fry until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, lift the hush puppies from the oil and place on a paper towel.

Can be made 2-3 hours ahead, leave at room temperature.  Rewarm in a pre-heated oven of 375F until crisp (12-14 minutes).  Garnish with a little chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

missing mom

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June is one of those transition months for the dogs.  The days are longer, hotter, and walks for the dogs are delayed to the evening hours, when it starts to cool down.  More often than not, Dolce and Amore are left at home, not wanting to leave them in the car during the hot hours of the day as Malcolm runs into town for errands.  Malcolm and I are busier.  Between work, travel, meetings, weddings, graduations and Saturday night dinners – it seems we’re gone more than we’re home.  The girls feel the effect of our busy schedule.  Flanked among boredom, and long hot days, they alternate between being sluggish during the hottest part of the day to being antsy when the tedious hours of lonesomeness labors on.  Their daily schedule has shifted to accommodate June’s higher temperatures and our demanding agendas.

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Amore laying her head on my lap after I was gone for 2 days

We can easily spend forty or so minutes calming them down as we enter the house after being away.  Both Dolce and Amore get clingy, wanting us right by them, touching us with their paws, nose nudging our hands and elbows.  They just want our touch.  A hand resting on them.  A constant scratch under the chin.  Fingers endlessly rubbing their fur-lined ears.

The usual scenario is a furry body on each side of me, so close a sheet of paper couldn’t slide between us, my arms around each one.  If I so much as move a finger away or twitch an eyelid, they’ll nudge me with their powerful paws as a reminder to pay more attention to them.  Their hind ends burrowing in even deeper into the corner pocket between the couch and my hip, their bodies leaning into me, I have 100 lbs. of deadweight dog resting against me on each side.  They each have their spot – Dolce on my left, tucked in close under my arm and shoulder, Amore on my right, plastered to my side, head resting against me.  I’m somewhere in the middle breathing in dog hair and fending off paws and noses.

Tomorrow I leave for a conference and will be gone for a week, leaving Malcolm home tending to the girls.  I can only imagine my homecoming.