when push comes to pull

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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

just yesterday

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The old gray mare,
She ain’t what she used to be
Ain’t what she used to be,
Ain’t what she used to be
The old gray mare,
She ain’t what she used to be
Many long years ago.

Many long years ago,
Many long years ago,
The old gray mare,
She ain’t what she used to be
Many long years ago.

Oh, yeah!  We’ve all had that wonderful little ditty sung to us at one birthday or another.  A childish tune to remind us of our age, our wrinkles and our gray strands of hair.

It’s never an issue when others start to show signs of aging.  When friends “out gray” you or when siblings are first to parade their seniority with age spots and knee creaks.  Nope, it’s never a concern when others display their maturity with saggy boobs, baggy jowls or flabby old-women arms.  In today’s world, all theses aging deficits can be overcome with a little nip n’ tuck, a little botox and a long sleeve sweater.

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matching crows feet

Me?  I’m okay with my beginners set of wrinkles, I’ve always found crows feet attractive.  I call’em laugh lines.  I’m doing okay with the sag, bag and flab trio that comes with sliding past the 50 year marker. I’ve earned those.   I’m even okay with my dyed gray hairs… as long as they stay dyed.  And, I’m okay with my few expanding freckles I found on my wrist and forearm.  Age spots aren’t THAT bad.  Those are badges of experiences and wisdom.  Comes with the territory I tell myself.

What I’m not okay with is seeing these same aging symptoms on the girls.

Just yesterday they were little wiggly puppies with roly-poly tummies and the most precious puppy breath ever.

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Amore and Dolce in their younger days

Just yesterday they were rambunctious young pups with more energy than a power plant on steroids.  And, just yesterday Amore and Dolce were full of piss n’ vinegar, eager to start the morning before the first light of the day, not crossing the finish line until dark.

showing some gray

showing some gray

But just yesterday, I noticed Amore showing some gray in her brows, a little gray in her muzzle.  Just yesterday, I watched Dolce rising up in the mornings a little slower, her back hips reluctant to move as quick.  Just yesterday Malcolm had to lift Amore down from the SUV when he returned from taking the girls for a walk.  The jump too much for her.

Just yesterday I remarked to Malcolm how the girls were sleeping later into the morning, how they were taking longer naps and seeking the sun’s warmth as they curled up on the couch for a snooze.  Just yesterday I observed Amore running slower on our walks, and Dolce lagging further behind.

Just yesterday Amore and Dolce were sumo wrestling in the living room, today they flop down on the sun-warmed bricks for some shut-eye.  Just yesterday, they were destroying books, magazines and newspapers in our absence.  Today they don’t even notice we are gone.

Just yesterday …

‘Twas the night before Christmutts……

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‘Twas the night before Christmutts, when all through the pen
not a creature was stirring, not a mutt nor a hen.
The stockings were hung by the dog door with care, in hopes that St. Bern soon would soon be there.

The dogs were nestled all snug on their beds,
while visions of rawhide and bones danced in their heads.
With Amore in her ‘kerchief, and Dolce in her cap, they had just settled down for a long canine’s nap.

When out in the dog pen there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature dog sled and eight tiny Terriers.

With a little old driver, so lively and durn,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Bern.
and faster than Greyhounds, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Rover! Now Ruddy! Now, Pepper and Buddy!
On, Daisy! On, Charlie! On, Duke and Harley!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now leap away! leap away! leap away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, jumped to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sled full of toys, and St. Bern too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing and a little woof woof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Bern came with a bound.

He was covered all in fur, from his muzzle to his paw,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and straw.
A bundle of treats he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! His jowls, how merry!
His tail curled over, his nose like a cherry!
His long muzzle was drawn up like a bow, the whiskers on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a rawhide he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a big round belly, that shook when he barked, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old mutt,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of his strut.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings with treats and jerk.
And laying his paw aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sled, to his dogs gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmutts to all, and to all a good night!”

 

 

buffy

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City of Paris Dry Goods Company's Christmas tree -  a Christmas tree so big, it reaches the top floor!

City of Paris Dry Goods Company’s Christmas tree – a Christmas tree so big, it reaches the top floor!

When I was little, every November, my mother would take us girls into the city to go shopping.  Christmas Shopping.  Major get out the card, shop til’ ya drop type of shopping.  In one day, in one fell swoop, get it all done kind of shopping.  We lived in a small farming community in California, so a trip to San Francisco meant a grand adventure for my sisters and I.  It meant having a fancy lunch and if we were lucky some See’s chocolate!  It meant a ride on the cable car and some taffy candy down at the wharf.  It meant seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and huge ships in the bay.  But a shopping trip in November meant going to the City of Paris Department Store and seeing their five-story tall Christmas tree, a true wonderland for my eyes.

I remember one year, all of us kids got new Christmas togs.  New, not a hand-me-down-four-times-doesn’t-quite-fit-it’s-too-short Christmas dress, but brand new.  New, not home-made or sewn, but tags still on new.  A Christmas dress from the City of Paris.  I still remember that dress.  It was blue with red xylophone bars across the front and down to the hem line, gold cording over the bars.  It was a Buffy dress.  TV’s Family Affair, Buffy Davis wore one just like it in the show.  Oh how I loved that show and how I loved that dress.  At the time, I was six and a half, pudgy with freckles across my nose, a scraggly pixie hair cut and missing two front teeth.  Not exactly the cutest kid in the class, but when I put on my Buffy dress, I magically transformed into a princess.  A Buffy princess.  I’ve always believed, at some point, young or old, every girl needs a Buffy dress.  Something that makes their inner self shine, something that lets them feel beautiful and special, inside and out.

The other day, while at out and about at one of my favorite little shops in Santa Fe, I found the perfect Holiday outfits for Dolce and Amore.  And, I couldn’t resist.  Had to have them.  Didn’t care that Malcolm might get just a tiny bit cranky over some frivolous doggy purchase. Come hell or high water, I was buying.  I had found the ideal Buffy attire for them.  Something to make them feel beautiful.  Special.  Like a Buffy dog princess.

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Dolce loved her Buffy collar so much she wouldn’t let me take it off her.  Amore carried hers through out the house (I think she liked the jingle jangle from the little bells).  And Malcolm, he grabbed the camera to take pictures of our beautiful princesses.  He thought the collars perfect canine attire for the holidays!

Here’s to the Buffy in all of us!

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