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In the wake of social media and networking apps came selfies.  A high angle shot held steady by a selfie stick or an arm stretched to the high heavens, selfies are designed to appear casual and natural.  No airbrushing, no photo-shopping, and more importantly, at no cost.  Selfies exaggerate the size of ones eyes and minimize any double chin you may be working on.  The appeal of selfies came about from how cheap and easy they are to create and share.  Almost instantly.  The best part is the control they give the self-photographers over how they look.

It’s safe to say Kim Kardashian is officially People magazine’s queen of selfies.  She has legitimately earned the crown by taking Twitter, Instagram, and other just-click-here media outlets very seriously.  She even has her own set of selfie rules she adheres to. Not a day goes by without some comment, tweet or article rambling on about Kim’s latest picture post.  Well, move over Kim, there is a new bitch in town.

It didn’t take long for selfies to cross-over into the canine world.  Doggie self-portraits are popping up all over the internet in dog blogs and pet sites.  Pup pics, pooch Polaroids and puppy photos are filling up Instagram and Twitter accounts.  Pinterest is over-flowing with dog selfies.  Do a quick google search on mutt mugs and thousands of images of Fido selfies can be found.

The selfie trend took hold right around the time the girls were born and Amore jumped on the Instagram craze like a house on fire.  At three weeks, Amore took her first selfie.  A shy peek-a-boo portrait with big puppy eyes and paws. DSC00596

Next came her pensive selfie.  Two months old and she already knew her good side.

AmoreAs Amore aged, her posturing adapted to her personality.  Her selfies emphasized her crazy, the photos defining her complex individuality.

Amore peeking from the front sure that something better is happening in the backThe selfies continued.

DSC00331 And continued.   Amore went selfie happy.  No photo went unposted.









She had only one rule.  She had to be front row and center in the picture.  She didn’t share film or credits.


Snow only brought out more opportunity for snapshots.

Photo 9 - Amore

To our dismay, our cute little Amore had turned into a selfie slut.

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when push comes to pull


Bernese Mountain Dogs are an old breed.  Amore and Dolce’s long ago ancestors were once used as all-purpose farm dogs. Originating from Switzerland long before the time they were recognized as a purebred dog, Berners were used as watchdogs for guarding property and to drive dairy cattle long distances from the farm to up to the alpine pastures.  And, they were considered great draft dogs.  One of their most essential historical tasks was to transport fresh milk, cheese and other farm fresh produce for small farmers pulling carts and small wagons containing the wares to market. berner-cart 2

Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred to haul small drays.  Like a cowdog’s first instinct is to herd, nipping at the heels of cattle, Berner’s have a predisposition to want to push and pull.  Their deep barreled chest and strong upper body strength gives them a solid muscle pack to push against a harness.  berner cart 1

When Tiamo was a youngster, she started to push her way between our legs, usually from behind. Similar to her forebears, she would thrust her shoulders against Malcolm or my lower limbs, her head slightly down, her front paws digging into the ground for traction.  If you were ready for the intrusion, Tiamo would continue to press through, gaining a neck rub and an ear scratch as she emerged on the other side.  If you weren’t on the ready, tragic tumbling could befall.

We first thought this was some sort of game with her.  Her canine way of getting some extra lovin!  We came to realize Tiamo was doing what she was bred to do – to push against a harness, to pull her freight.  Our legs were her harness.  We toyed with the idea of cart training her.  We had grand thoughts of her hauling our groceries, or maybe even us, to and from the store.  We nixed that thought pretty damn quick.  The cost of equipment and training gave that idea an abrupt death.  Add the image of another large thing to store and gather dust in the garage and Malcolm and I dropped the cart notion like a hot potato.berner cart 3

To her dying day, Tiamo loved to push between our legs to petting victory on the other side.  She always won.

Her heritage lying deep in her heart, Dolce has the same innate desire to push.  In the last couple of years, Dolce has started the same game of pushing between our legs from behind and coming up the victor with scratchin’ and rubbin’ as she pokes her head through. Dolce considers it her duty, when she can make Malcolm or myself move forward ten feet or more.  It’s her role even if  she gets us to travel less.  No matter, she still gets her reward of lovin’ for a job well done.

Berners are a breed that has served for generations as helpmates and faithful canine companions.  They are considered working dogs and need chores to feel useful to their owners, to have a purpose, to feel important. For Dolce, the labor is in the pushing, the challenge is in moving one of us forward, and the reward is some well deserved lovin! blog signature 2-25-14

the excuse

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We all have ’em.

Riding shotgun besides a blatant lie or perhaps a gentle apology, they line up in the corners of our brain, ready to be put to use.  Some are old standbys.  Some are reality.  And some are just shameless whoppers.  We have the famous ones such as, ‘not tonight, I have a headache’ or ‘I have to wash my hair’.  Along side of those, we have the “I’m sick, I can’t come into work” ones.  All in all, excuses are disguised as justification, a feeble attempt to absolve our guilt at doing or not doing, something.

Excuses are issued to grant us a little wiggle room, when we just can’t verbalize the true words.  They pave the way out of saying what we really want to convey.  Our exit clause. In realty, excuses keep us on the hook, wiggling around like the worm being cast out to the fish, wondering if they’ll bite.

I can remember when my sisters were just starting their families.  As the babies came, one by one, so did the excuses.  They weaseled out of more dish duty and kitchen prep work with one baby excuse after another.  They were either feeding babies or tending to their bath time.  Putting them down for bed time or setting up Finding Nemo for the little ones to watch.  Always at the precise time of dinner clean up.  Not married and with no incumbents, I suffered dishwater hands for most of my young adult life. But not any more. Nope, now, I have my own cop-out.

Every so often, Malcolm and/or myself find ourselves presenting our own excuse.  A standby that is now our reality. The words ‘can’t’ and ‘unfortunately’ creep into the conversation when we offer our necessary confession.  The words like ‘not tonight’  and ‘the kids’ pepper our cover story.

I call it the Dog Excuse. We have two of them.

The first one is utilized when Malcolm or myself, absolutely do not want to perform.  And by perform, I mean attend a B-list type party, dinner or soiree where we pretend to enjoy ourselves, where we bluff our way through convo’s and feign delight at being a contributing factor to the event.  This is when the dogs come in handy as an attempt to save us.  When they are our excuse to be excused.  When we happily say the word ‘can’t’ and ‘not tonight’ cuz Dolce and Amore need us at home.  This is when the no-go turns into a no-show.

Our other rationalization is airtight.  It is also our sum and substance of our lives.  If we want a mess-free house to return to when out and about, we have a four to five-hour window of absence before canine chaos hits the home front. This dog excuse releases us out of whatever agreement and/or obligation we are in the middle of. This is where I now joyfully get out of KP duty. Somewhere around the four-hour mark of being gone, Malcolm starts to get antsy, making noise it’s time to get home. Time to check on Amore and Dolce, making sure they haven’t caused any additional mischief.  Time to make sure the house is intact and sound.  Time to make tracks for home.  Leave or be left with mayhem.  This is when our time-to-go turns into gotta-go. Now!  By the fifth hour of our truancy, Malcolm is in the driver’s seat, revving the engine, tapping the horn at me, to hurry and get on the road. Our dog excuses said, we leave to attend to our life’s choice – two beautiful dogs that need us at home.

Life with dogs means exonerated whitewashing, circumspect cop-outs and plenty of canine cover-ups.  What’s your excuse?

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