Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back to the Beginning

My name is Charlie.

Welcome to my blog. I am 5 years old now. This is a picture of me at the dog park a few years ago.

Here are a few verbal snapshots of my early adventures, just to bring you up to date. Then I'll go on with my dog blog.

Charlie's Journal
January 15, 2003
I came into the world in Ireland. My 4 brothers and sisters and I romped around the snowy barnyard till the hills began to turn green, when a man in a business suit loaded us into his truck to take us someplace. I didn’t mind too much because I was with my brothers and sisters and we could still play with each other in the truck. Then the man shut us up in tiny boxes and put us in a big dark room filled with lots of cases with handles. I was so scared, because it was my first time being alone. I could smell the other puppies but I couldn’t see them. I guess it was only about 10 hours till I saw my brothers and sisters again, but it seemed like forever. And when we got out of the big room, we weren’t in Ireland any more.

April 1, 2003
We were at Stephen’s family’s house in Illinois. He has 2 little girls who like to play with me. They are people but they play like puppies. One is not much bigger than me. I like them. I can tell by the way they talk that they’re from Ireland too. But now I live in an igloo in a garage with my brothers and sisters. A whole family of terriers lives in the next igloo. They are littler than us. The little girls like to play with them too. Stephen and the little girls’ mommy only let them play with one of us at a time. I think it’s because they don’t want too many puddles in the house, or something like that. Every day strangers come to look at us. I want them to pick me up and hold me, so I put my paws as high as I can on the fence around the igloo and wag my tail. Sometimes they hold me and pet me, but then they put me back down on the newspaper yard of my igloo.

April 8, 2003
Another stranger came today. As usual, I did the wagging trick and it worked. But this man didn’t seem to want to put me back in the igloo—ever. He just held me and held me and grinned and grinned, like a little kid, only big. Then a lady in a red coat came. She smiled at the man like she knew what his grinning meant. She patted the top of my head like she wasn’t too sure if I would bite or what. I was real calm in the man’s arms, so pretty soon the lady asked to hold me too. I was calm in her arms too. She didn’t seem to want to stop holding me either. It was nice. After they passed me back and forth a few times though, they put me down on the newspaper and went away. I hoped they would come and hold me again sometime.

April 11, 2003
It was already really dark out—way past my bedtime—when the same man and lady came back. I knew they had come to hold me, I just knew it! They held me and held me and even took me into the kitchen where the man and Stephen looked at some papers. Then the man took me outside into his car. My joy suddenly turned to panic. I didn’t recognize any smells in this car. I tried to get away, but there was nowhere to go. There were towels on the seats, but as soft as towels are, these were no comfort … I wanted familiar faces and places. Where would he take me? Where was the lady? Where was Stephen? My fear became too much for me when the strange man started driving away. I frantically crawled onto him. He didn’t want me there. He wanted me on the towels. But I knew it’s okay for baby pups to be scared, so I just let him know it too.

When the car finally stopped, we were at a different house, and the lady was there. They both just wanted to hold me, which was A-okay with me. I had to be so brave to go somewhere new and different by myself, but I didn’t feel brave at all. The lady held me real close and talked softly to me as she walked into every room in the whole house, even the basement. She was probably telling me what everything was, kind of introducing me to my new home, but I was too nervous to listen. Then the man showed me a fleecy bed inside a cage, and he wanted me to sleep on it. No way would I close my eyes in this strange place. The lady spread a big pink blanket on the floor in front of my cage. The man laid down on the blanket and closed his eyes right outside my cage. I felt safe and fell asleep.

April 12, 2003
Early the next morning, when I awoke, the man was gone, but very soon both the man and the lady came downstairs to ooh and aah at me. They let me out of my cage and carried me outside to some round stones. They kept saying “go potty” like I was supposed to know what that meant. The stones felt hard and bumpy to my feet, was all I could think of. They let me off the stones and onto some grass. They walked a few steps and I walked a few steps. They walked a few steps and I walked a few steps. I may not have known them well, but they were the only familiar thing around, and I didn’t want to be more than a paw’s length away from them. The grass felt soft on my feet. I peed and pooped, which seemed only natural, but that seemed to fluster them. They rushed me back to the stones. I didn’t understand why.

Then the man said he wanted to get the newspaper print off my fur and the lady said she wanted to get her camera. They took me to a tub in the basement and the man put water on me. I cried and cried, but he kept doing it. Then he sudsy-rubbed me. I shook with fear. Then more water. The lady flashed a bright light right in my already frightened eyes. Then the water stopped and the man lifted me out of the tub into a towel. It felt good, but I still shivered. The man blew hot loud air at me. I trembled and trembled, so the lady held me close to her in the towel to help me not be so afraid, and the man blew the air at me for a long time until he had blown it on all my hair everywhere. My white hair was whiter after this. The man and the lady seemed very pleased. They had scared me, but they had cleaned me and comforted me too, so I decided that if they wanted to be my new mommy and daddy, that would be A-okay with me.

April 13
It is easy to surprise Mommy because I seem to be as new to her as she is to me. Daddy has had dogs before, so he knows what to expect. But they both seem surprised by how much I hear. Pretty much everything—a whisper upstairs, a bird a block away—and loud noises are really LOUD to me.

April 14
Daddy took me to work with him. He has an office at the top of the stairs. He wanted me to sit on the floor near him, but I wanted to be closer than that, so he let me sit on his desk while he worked. I felt so important.

April 18
Before I go to bed at night, I like to sit in Mommy or Daddy’s lap just to feel them close to me. There is a wicker chair near my cage, and I discovered that if I walk over to it and look up at it, one of them comes over and sits on the chair and holds me till I drift off to sleep.

April 20
When I was newer here, I was too scared to go more than a paw’s length away from Mommy or Daddy, so they usually carried me and sometimes put me down, free in the yard. One night Mommy tossed me a tennis ball in the back yard. She expected me to bring it back to her, but I took off running to the front of the house. (Daddy had carried me all around the outside of the house the night before, so I knew the grass went all around the house.) I ran fast too. Mommy was so surprised. I thought she would think I was cute and ever so smart to run all the way around the house. Turns out she did think I was smart but not so cute. Oh, it felt so fun to run like I used to in the Irish barnyard. She and Daddy were afraid I’d get hurt in the street—I overheard them talking later. Sigh. A barnyard this ain’t.

April 21
A farm it is though. I miss being able to run free with the other animals, but at least I can visit some. Right after dinner, Daddy jangles my leash, I wildly wag my tail, and we’re off into the prairie. He takes me on new adventures all the time. When we come home, he tells Mommy that I kissed a horse and which goats like me the best and when I saw the chickens. Sometimes Mommy comes with us, and one time she took me to see baby chicks. I liked the babies, because they’re little like me. But I like the big horsies too.

May 5
By now I’ve been on a few walks. Mommy noticed how strong I’m getting, because when she picks me up, my back legs dig into her tummy, and they are just a lot stronger. My walk might even be my favorite part of every day, because it’s the closest I get to running free. Sometimes Mommy is a good sport and runs with me, but she has trouble keeping up with super-dog. And there’s always that confounded leash.

May 7
A box came in the mail today, and it was for me! It was from my Grandma B. I’ve never met her, but she sent me toys—a red stuffed monkey that has 3 squeaky spots and a green ball with holes in it. While Mommy and Daddy eat their dinner, I sit in the kitchen and bite down on the monkey’s squeaky spots. They look over at me with “isn’t he cute?” in their eyes, but I coolly pretend not to notice. Here I am with my red monkey pal from Grandma B.

May 9
Mommy is very sleepy today because of a nightmare. She dreamt I got stolen by a coyote, because a puppy in a town near here did actually get stolen by a coyote. The coyote hurt him pretty bad. Mommy and Daddy won’t let me out of their sight now. I guess that makes me feel more secure now while I’m so little, but it might feel a little overprotective when I get older.

May 10
Mommy likes to play music and dance with me. Sometimes she holds me and glides and dips around the room. This is like a carnival ride. I like it. Sometimes she just slides around me while I’m on the floor. This is like a collision waiting to happen. I don’t like this. I can’t back away from her fast enough. (It’s my very own dance.)

A big boy and girl came tonight. Mommy was so excited to see them. And so was I when I discovered they wanted to play with me. The boy, Jeremy, was the lovingest guy and most playful human I’ve ever met. Even when he was sprawled out on the couch, I crawled all over him because I knew he’d figure out new ways to play every minute. The girl, Christine, was so huggy. I wonder if it’s a man/lady thing, because Daddy and Mommy are like this too—Daddy likes to play and Mommy likes to cuddle. Well, they both like both. But Daddy’s growls match my growls when we tug o’ war. Daddy holds my squeaky little monkey’s leg in his teeth while I chomp down on its ear and we pull and pull. I always win. Mommy growls wimpy-like and gives up too easy. But she loves to hold me and pet me and talk softly to me. I like both kinds of loving too.

May 11
I guess I lived up to my reputation today. Daddy says the motto of dogs like me is “so many laps, so little time.” Well, what do you expect? Nine people came over for Mother’s Day, and they all wanted to hold me. So I’m supposed to refuse? No way! This opportunity was too good to be true. So I went from lap to lap. And before they left, they all wanted to pet me one last time.

May 15
Mommy told Daddy after our walk today that I was pulling so hard to sniff that she had trouble controlling me. She said something about an operation. Something about something she read about the operation making life easier for everyone. I didn’t tell her I’m old enough to want to sniff for lady dogs now, but Daddy figured it out.

May 17
I crawled up the stairs! Cousins Erin and Christine showed me how on Mother’s Day, but I think my legs had to grow longer and stronger before I could pull myself up each step. I’m still scared to go down stairs, because I remember accidentally falling down these stairs once. But if I wait at the top of the stairs, someone scoops me up and in no time, I’m downstairs again. It’s a pretty good system.

Before today, I just camped with some of my toys on the landing and dodged Mommy’s and Daddy’s feet when they came by. Sometimes they carried me upstairs with them. Upstairs, I like Daddy’s office room and Mommy’s bathroom best. I have my own spot on the floor between the chairs in Daddy’s room, my own afghan in Daddy’s very own armchair, my own bird-watching place on his windowsill, and my own supervisory spot on his desk when he’s working. Mommy’s bathroom is more fun when she isn’t there, because I can take her socks from the floor there to play with.

May 22
It turns out I have a people sister, Nicole! Daddy took me in the car to meet her today. We had a picnic. She loved to pet me. She’s nice.

May 23
When Mommy and I snuggled this morning, she felt a bump in my fur. She told Daddy it was a tick. He got a frowny face and wondered if the tick jumped on me at the picnic or in the prairie. After this they took more ticks off me. Mommy says I’m a “tick magnet.” Now they don’t want me sniffing the sides of the prairie paths so much, and they put on their worried faces and do a tick check of all my skin after every walk.

May 31
I walked down the stairs for the first time all by myself! I was careful and slow, but if I turned a little sideways and took one step at a time, it worked. I was so proud of myself for overcoming my fear. I’m really a big boy now. I could tell Daddy was proud of me. He smiled and called me a hotshot. Then he called Mommy at work to tell her I was a hotshot. Mommy called Grandma U. to tell her I was a hotshot. When Mommy came home that night and saw her hotshot in action, she cheered and clapped.

June 5
On Thursday mornings Daddy goes away when it is still dark out. Later, Mommy takes me outside to the stones one last time to go potty before she goes away. Then I’m alone till Daddy comes home at lunchtime. I don’t like it when they both go away. So today I tried to delay my time alone by playing a game with Mommy. After I went potty, I climbed back into her arms like usual and just when she thought I was secure there, I bolted. I flew through the air and hit the ground running. I ran and ran around the outside of the house 2 times and then I hid in the tall grass in front and waited for her to find me. I laid down close to the ground, so I couldn’t figure out how she saw me so easily, but no matter, by the time she spotted me, I was already tearing around to the back. Ha, ha, she couldn’t catch me no matter what she did. But then during one of my whizzing orbits, I spied her going into the kitchen. Boy, if she did that, there goes my game, I thought. So by the time she closed the door, I was at her heels. Then I had to start my time alone, but at least I’d had a little fun fooling Mommy. Later she told Daddy that all day, just remembering the sight of a black and white dog thinking he couldn’t be seen in green grass made her laugh. Guess I’ll have to work on my camouflage technique.

That night Daddy was tired from driving so Mommy walked me around the neighborhood. Little brown birds with long stick-legs were walking on the road in front of me. I was sure I could catch them. Mommy said, “go get ’em, Charlie,” so I took off. She ran after me, but she said “ouch” with every pokey step, and the leash was short, so I didn’t catch the birds. But I gave ’em a run for their money.

Then I got interrupted by a noise. A rumble, high in the sky stopped me from chasing the birds. As I stood there, my eyes followed the sound. The thing making the noise was at least as big as a goose, but it was all gray with wings that didn’t flap. I sat down in the middle of the road. I was so intrigued by this new noise, this gray goose. I just watched it till it disappeared into the clouds. When I resumed my walk, all the little stick-leg birds were gone.

June 8
Usually after dinner, I bark my “will you play with me?” bark and either Mommy or Daddy agrees. My favorite game is “king of the toys.” I like to be in possession of all my toys, so one of my playmates will take one, which I’ll have to get back from them. Daddy says my growls are ferocious. Every time he’s nose-to-nose with me with my rope between our respective teeth, Mommy says she wishes she had a picture, so one of these days I can expect that bright light to flash in my eyes again.

Today I figured out a new game for when I’m not in the mood to growl at toy thieves. I chew a toy for awhile, then bat it away from me, retrieve it, chew it awhile, bat it away, retrieve it.

June 12
Today when Mommy was ready to go to work, I surprised her and went in my cage all by myself. I thought it was the least I could do for her since I’d just stepped in my poop and she had to wash my feet before she left for work. She said I was so smart, so that night when it was my bedtime, I went in my cage by myself too.

June 14
I realize I have to develop some signals besides barking at my parents. Whenever I bark, they automatically say, “outside, go potty?” and scoop me up and before I know it, I’m in my throne room, as they call it, with no urge whatsoever to go potty. So I poke around looking for bugs, eating grass, pawing at stones, and watching birds till Mommy and Daddy figure out they misinterpreted my bark. Today when I was thirsty, I didn’t bark. Instead, I stood on my hind legs and looked at my water bowl on the kitchen counter. Mommy knew exactly what I wanted. This is progress, I thought.

Another thing happened today that sounds like progress, but probably isn’t. I flew. But the landings were so hard, I don’t think I’ll try it again. While darting to and fro amongst the covers to evade Mommy’s lifting me off their bed, I darted too far and accidentally flew off the bed. My momentum carried me through the air halfway across the bedroom. I tried to act as though I wasn’t stunned, like it was all part of my game, and then shortly thereafter, I intentionally jumped down off the patio table. It’s independence, yes, but it’s hard on the hips. I don’t like being a flying dog.

This next incident is definitely regression. I got my leg stuck in the bars of my cage. I yelped and yelped. Mommy dropped what she was carrying and ran to me. By this time I’d pulled my cage halfway across the kitchen trying to get my leg loose, but it just hurt and hurt worse and was still stuck. Mommy got my leg loose and held me close and talked softly to me—boy, I really felt like crying. I guess I was pretty scared while I was stuck because there were little puddles on the kitchen floor, which I don’t think were my tears. Mommy wiped them up and then held me close some more. I think it must hurt her too when I hurt. Her soothing words and tender caress felt so good to me. She gently told me that when that happens again, if I don’t panic and pull, I won’t hurt myself as much. I’ll try to remember that, but I’m just a pup and I panic.

June 17
Mommy and Daddy have been yammering about puppy school for weeks. I appreciate their efforts to prepare me, but nothing could have. Have you ever been surrounded by strange, unruly, barking dogs? It’s overwhelming and not a little scary. I barked at and sniffed as many as I could get close to. But when Otis the pug came after me, I climbed up the back of Mommy’s legs. Daddy thought I was scared, but really I was showing Otis how tall I am. Otis wasn’t impressed, however, and Daddy wasn’t fooled. Then class started. Kelly, my teacher, is so nice. My new pinch collar feels funny when Mommy and Daddy and Kelly tug it and say “no” and “heel” and “sit” and “stay.” I’m pretty good at sitting and staying, but that heeling business is annoying. I’d rather look and sniff around. Kelly says that’s because puppies are easily distracted. We have homework. She said it would be hard, but I’m up to it. I aim to please.

June 21
Have you ever been camping? I have, now. It is big fun. First you sit on Mommy’s lap for 4 hours in the car. Then you get to a place with lots of trees, but there are spaces between the trees where people suspend cloths that they sleep under. I got to sleep right with Mommy and Daddy. I liked that a lot. For 2 whole days you get to go around sniffing hundreds of people and pooping in different places. Sometimes you sit by a fire and watch people eat. One people was Jimmy who ran so fast with me. One people was Katie who was very little and scared to touch me but I won her over. Pretty soon I was perched on her lap. Her brother Stephane liked to hold me too. One of the people thought I was spoiled. I got to go to town and to a big lake too. Oh, there was so much to sniff, I thought I was in heaven. Then it was another 4 long hours in the car to get home. Oh, boy, I like camping!

July 4

Mommy and Daddy took me to a park just for doggies to run and swim. Yes, I swam for the first time. I didn’t mean to. When Daddy brought me here yesterday, I didn’t. I just waded in to the lake up to my knees. Today I was doing the same. I don’t especially like to get all wet. But when I waded to the right toward the floating green things, Daddy told me to come back. When I waded straight in toward the fishies, Daddy told me to go get them, which would require my putting my face under water—yeah, right. So I waded to the left and there was a log hanging over the shallow water. I climbed up on it out of the water and walked a few steps out. I felt like king of the lake. But then, the log rolled, propelling me right into deep water. Lo and behold, I knew just how to paddle my paws and I paddled right back to my cheering parents on the shore. After that, they tried to get me to swim again, but I wanted no part of any swimming game.

July 6
Mommy was napping when Daddy got a phone call that made him run outside with a sheet. I watched from the back door window—my window, the only window that comes down low enough for me to see out of—as he moved all the plant pots to a little corner of the patio by the house and put the sheet over them. Mommy and Daddy spend so much time fussing over those pots and now he goes and puts a sheet over them. I will never understand adults. Then Daddy took me out to sit in the rocking chair on the front porch. The sky was dark, it began to rain, but we stayed dry under the porch. I thought okay, but what’s the attraction here? Let’s go inside and play. Then the attraction started. White balls began falling from the sky and bouncing off the sidewalk and grass. They made noise when they hit too. They must have been really hard because when they hit the house they clattered.

July 7
Mommy stayed home from work today but I still spent the day working at the office with Daddy. His job is just too hard for one person. He needs my help. So I sat on the windowsill all morning making sure no birdies bothered him. Then in the afternoon I dozed right on top of all the dust bunnies in the corner so they couldn’t distract him either. After dinner I heard my parents laughing because I fell asleep on my fuzzy, stuffed hotdog. Boy, it sure is tiring protecting Dad all day.

July 8
I am feeling a little better today after my parasite. I don’t know what a parasite is but Mommy and Daddy have worn their frowny faces out by my throne room all weekend. They said the parasite came from the lake water at the doggie park. Anyway, I figured I have to make up for the playing I missed during the parasite. I brought my hotdog upstairs to the office and my expectant eyes told Daddy I wanted him to play with me. Daddy got up from his desk and threw my hotdog all the way down the stairs! That’s the farthest he’s ever thrown one of my toys. But I ran down and brought the hotdog right back up to Daddy. He seemed a little surprised, but then he threw it down the stairs again. I ran down and got my hotdog and brought it to Dad. Again and again he threw it downstairs till I was beginning to wonder if he was trying to wear me out or hint to play downstairs. But the game is that I bring it back to whoever threw it, so I kept my part of the deal. This is why they call dogs faithful. Finally, I did get tired from all my running and Daddy put me back on the windowsill next to his elbow, where I promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, I was all wet. I must have really been zonked to sleep through a rainstorm. Maybe Daddy was trying to wear me out.

July 19
I knew something was up because Mommy got up before the sun to cook things. I didn’t remember she had told me there would be a lot of laps today, or I could have chilled out and just waited for the fun to begin. As it was, I felt somewhat insecure. The more underfoot I could be, I thought, the more secure I would feel. So whatever Mommy did, boy, I was right there with her. If she opened the oven door, I was right there. If she opened the refrigerator, I was right there. If she opened the dishwasher, I was right there. If she swished the brush in the bathroom, I was right there. If she went outside to put a cloth on a table, I barked by the back door to let her know I was right there.

But then the people started coming and coming. I met Aunt Joan and Uncle John, who are my Cousin Reuben’s parents. I tried to no avail to smell Reuben on them. They brought me a jerky present, which Daddy gives me little pieces of to eat. I smelled cats on my cousin Jonathan though, so that was fun. I remembered my Grandma U. from the last party, so snuggled right up to her chest and kissed her mouth with my tongue. She blushed and laughed. Grandpa was happy when I put my head on his lap to nap, so I did it a lot. When he stood up, I just flopped my head over to Aunt Judy’s lap and kept napping. Cousin Jeremy kept asking whoever was holding me if he could hold me.

Aunt Judy and Aunt Joan took me onto the grass and threw a flat thing back and forth. Sometimes I caught it, but then I’d trip over it. It was too big for me, I guess. I thought, “Aunt Joan obviously doesn’t know the rules of ‘king of the toys’ because she wants me to drop the flat thing at her feet so she can throw it again.” But then I figured out that she was playing a different game called “fetch.” It’s a pretty good game too. If I knew the dog-word for “the cat’s meow,” I would say this day was it.

September 25
I was an opportunist today. We were upstairs having a working lunch, well, Daddy was anyway. He had his hotdog (a slimy, fake imitation of my real soft, furry hotdog) on a paper plate on his desk when the doorbell rang. Daddy ran downstairs. I jumped up on the desk and before he could say, “UPS delivery,” I had licked all the red sauce off his plate. I didn’t touch his hot dog though; I have more sophisticated tastes.

October 3
Usually, my parents are home on Friday nights, but tonight they went out. So I napped for about 3 hours. So they get home and want to sleep. They put me to bed—right after a 3-hour nap, for pete’s sake. I barked that I wanted to play. Daddy’s voice came down the stairs: “Charlie, lie down and go to sleep.” I barked again. Mommy came downstairs to lullaby me, but I wriggled and squirmed and was as obnoxious as possible to communicate that noway, nohow was I going to sleep. She put me back to bed anyway! I barked with playful verve. Daddy’s voice came down the stairs again: “Charlie, be quiet.” I whined and barked insistently. Then Mommy came down, picked me up, and wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, took me upstairs and lay me down right between her and Daddy. I immediately fell into my most contented sleep ever. I slept there all night.

October 4
I have a Burley now. It has wheels and attaches to Daddy’s bicycle. When he pedals, his bike goes forward, and my Burley does too, right behind him, only I don’t have to pedal my Burley. I just sit there with my ears blowing back. Sometimes I bark at other dogs as I breeze by. Sometimes I curl up and lie down. Sometimes I whine and wiggle because I’m bored. Sometimes Mommy pedals up to the side of my Burley and talks to me. All the little children we pass shout with glee when they see me in my blue and yellow Burley. Today was my first “official” ride, and I’m not sure how well I like this new thing. I’m happier being with Mommy and Daddy than left alone at home. But I can’t move around much. And of course, what I really want is to be able to jump out and lick and sniff everything I see, but I’m chained in.

October 31
I don’t know how or why, but my parents let me sleep in their bed with them all night long again. I whined a little after “Nite-Nite Charlie” and the cage latch-click, but I wasn’t even all that obnoxious. I love feeling their bodies close to mine when I fall asleep. There is something so right about it.

November 9
As of today, I am without any stuffed toys. My little red monkey was the last to go. Daddy wore his frowny face when he threw my monkey in the white bucket under the sink. He wore his frowny face when he picked up all the big white puffs of stuffing too. I tried to eat the puffs, but he wouldn’t let me.

A few weeks ago, when I chewed holes in my second hotdog, a very sad Mommy carried me in the garage and told me to say “bye-bye” to my hotdog as she threw it in a tall green bucket. She told Daddy something about a “hotdog funeral.” In the following weeks, I saw my mangy, holey hedgehog, my gorilla with his nose ripped off, and my mysteriously skinny purple puppy up on the kitchen counter, out of my reach. Then they quietly disappeared.

Mommy and Daddy said “NO” and “BAD DOG” when I chewed holes in my little stuffed pals, but I kept doing it, so by the time I opened up my monkey, they were not happy with me, but now I am lonely for a little soft animal to cuddle. It’s not fair. They have a little soft animal to cuddle—ME! I hope they buy me another little pet.

November 15
We went to the doggie park today—all 3 of us. They told me when we got in the car where we were going, and I was pumped, but patient. Then wouldn’t you know it, almost right away, I saw horsies running by the side of the road. Well that got me excited enough to whine with sheer excruciating desire to be outside running with them, and then I figured, what the heck, why not whine all the way to the doggie park?

At the park this time there were actually dogs my size for a change. I sniffed them, but the only dog that wanted to play with me was pretty big. He knocked me down. I guess it’s some kind of rolling game he likes. Well, I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I planted my butt firmly on the ground and he didn’t knock me down any more.

We walked—well, the slow-pokes walked—while I, super-dog, ran all over the trails and fields. Sometimes I jumped up on Mommy and Daddy from pure happiness. Mommy calls me “Air Charlie” when I do that. There were lots of burrs in my hair when we finally got back to the car. They didn’t hurt me till they got pulled out. Mommy tried to hold me still, while Daddy pulled out the burrs. I winced. They stuck me. When we got home, they found one more burr to pull out. Daddy made the mistake of tossing the burr on the patio. Come on, did he really think I wasn’t going to eat it?

November 20
Mommy says I snore like a cappuccino machine. Funny, I didn’t know they snored. HaHa. Well, anyway, at least I got to sleep with my head right up on her pillow. It was my first time doing that, which I guess was okay, but really, I like a spot at the foot of the bed best for sleeping. If I get within an arm’s reach of my parents, they are likely to pet me and wake me up, so I save the snuggling for when I want to be awake.

November 21
Daddy knelt on the floor and made loud noises at the toilet tonight. Mommy rubbed a wet towel all over his head and said “poor baby” to him, which peeved me a little because I’m her baby, but he didn’t look so good and he held his head in his hands and was sad he couldn’t play with me, so I guess he needed to be babied.

Mommy took me to the basement tonight. Normally, I don’t like to go there because whenever I do, I have to get a bath. But she went down there while she did something behind a forest of hanging clothes, so I just sniffed around on my own. I felt like quite the explorer, sniffing 2 of the 4 corners and everything in the middle. She kept poking her head out into the open and saying my name, but I didn’t get into any trouble. Mostly, I liked sniffing Daddy’s clothes the best. Then Mommy encouraged me to climb the basement stairs all by myself. I didn’t think I could do it, but she kept saying I could, so I tried. It was slow-going. I had to go up sideways to keep from slipping. I have much surer footing on fuzzy stairs. Anyway, when I got to the top, Mommy cheered.

December 14
The ground turned white! And cold! It feels funny on my feet, but it is fun to lick. Mommy and Daddy don’t seem to like to take me for walks, or w-a-l-k-s, as they so cleverly try to fool me, when anything outside is wet. They say I get too muddy. And this white stuff is wet, so I don’t get out much. When Mommy took me outside to go potty today, I just wanted to stay outside and lick the white wet stuff and sniff the air and see if Emily or Jacob would come over if they saw me outside, like they used to when the air was warm and blue instead of cold and gray, like today. Mommy got bored waiting for me to go potty, so she pushed the white stuff with a long stick with a curved board on the end over to the sides of the driveway. Then she did the same thing on the sidewalk out front. She says this white stuff is called snow. Anyway, she seemed to like pushing snow, which was A-okay with me because I got to stay outside for a long, long time without even having to go potty. By the way, Emily did pop her head out her front door to yell “Hi Charlie!” but then she popped back inside.

Daddy went to bed early, so Mommy played fetch with me. We played with Scottie for awhile, but then we went downstairs and played fetch with the rope. She threw the rope into the dining room. She chased me around the table. She threw the rope into the kitchen. Pretty soon I was thirsty, so I dropped the rope and began slurping from my water bowl on the floor. Something tickled my butt. It was my rope dangling from my teasing mommy’s hand. We played fetch some more till I got thirsty again. I dropped the rope and went over to my water bowl. I felt something brush against my butt again. It was the same tickler. I couldn’t believe it. We played fetch some more, but the 3rd time I got thirsty, I took the rope with me to the water bowl and put it right under my front paws while I took a drink. Mommy got the hint.

December 26
I was way too pooped last night to write about my busy day so I’m writing today. Yesterday. Wow. First order of business: I got a bath. I just don’t like baths. Plus, somehow, I got tangles on my belly, which Daddy had to brush out. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I snarled at Daddy, which I got in trouble for. Not a very good start to the day. I got very, very clean though. And my hair was very, very fluffy and shiny. Usually, the payoff of enduring baths is the increased cuddling afterward. But my usual cuddlers were too busy yesterday. Sigh.

I knew enough to stay out of the way in the morning when Mommy baked and frosted and poured and peeled and Daddy pushed vacuums and tables and chairs and rugs and even my cage around. I was lucky I got to eat breakfast because I don’t think they stopped long enough for their breakfast. I suspected people might be coming over, and sure enough, lots of people came. I put my paws up on all of them to welcome them. And they all put their paws down on me to say hello. Everybody thought I was so much more grown up than when they saw me last. I think so too.

I wandered around in the living room checking everybody out and sniffing cheese and shrimp and nuts. Around and around I trotted, Cousin Bethany, Aunt Judy, cheese, Aunt Linda, Uncle Jim, Cousin Erin, Grandpa, nuts, Uncle Jerry, Cousin Jonathan, shrimp, Cousin Jeremy, Cousin Christine, Grandma, and then around I’d go again, Cousin Bethany, Aunt Judy, cheese ... Sometimes I’d make double, lingering passes at the cheese. Then I’d go by the back door and sniff all the shoes.

Let me tell you about presents. There was a mountain of boxes with bright colors on them. All of a sudden, people took all the boxes out of the mountain and piled them in little hills all over the room. Then once each person had his own hill, he’d tear the bright colors off the box and call, “Thank you!” across the room. In the midst of all this commotion, Daddy gave me a lump of bright colors, so I knew just what to do. My teeth ripped at the colors till I found what was underneath, which was my very own slipper. A new toy! To appreciate it fully, I took it to the rug by the back door to lick and chew my new slipper in peace. Mommy and Daddy were really preoccupied, because I even had to chew off the tag myself. After all the people had left, Mommy and Daddy opened their colored boxes, and there were two more for me—a little one and a big one. The little one was a green ball from Grandma and Grandpa, and the big one had four new toys in it! Within minutes I had almost chewed the snowman’s carrot nose off, so Mommy came over to check my mouth. Well, I was in no mood for monitoring of a brand new toy, so I snarled at her. In trouble again. A few days ago Daddy bought a book about dogs like me. Since then he’s been much stricter about my growling. I’m so used to hearing “good dog,” I can’t believe I started and ended this day in trouble.

December 30, 2003
What a weird couple of days. First there was clean-up after the big party. Then there was getting ready for something else. Mommy and Daddy were so busy all the time. Sometimes Mommy said something like, “Charlie, next week, you’ll get to meet your cousin Reuben.” Then she showed me a picture of a big black dog. She thought it was cute that I licked the picture, and a good sign that I would like Reuben. Daddy said things like, “Charlie, soon we’re going bye-bye in the car—and you’re going with us.” They put so many things from the house into the car in the garage. Okay, okay, I understood they were trying to prepare me for something again, but I couldn’t imagine it, so I was a little on-edge.

This morning, a voice from a little black box by the bed woke me up at 3:30. It was very dark and still out, but my parents both rolled out of bed and stumbled around to their bathrooms. Mommy took me outside to my throne room. The air was so quiet, I thought we must be the only awake people on the planet. I was too nervous to eat my breakfast. Then we all got in the car and drove away. Well, so far, so good. At least I was with them. It was dark out for a long time, but I wanted to sit in Mommy’s lap and look out the window anyway. So many big trucks and so many lights whizzing by us … I thought for sure we must be getting near the dog park or the pet store, so I started my little eager-whine. Their calming words were apparently trying to prepare me again for something I couldn’t imagine. I stopped whining, that is, until the car slowed down and I thought we must finally be at the dog park or pet store. Then I let it all out, boy. But it wasn’t a dog park or a pet store. It was a big building with a gajillion trucks and cars parked around it and people walking stiffly to and fro. There were some other dogs going potty on some grass, so I barked and barked at them. Mommy was not very happy with me when I barked wildly at a little teensy golden retriever puppy, but I guess I just had too much nervousness in me that had to come out. That is probably the same reason I barked so much when Mommy disappeared into the building and then after she came back, Daddy disappeared into it too. Finally, we were all together in the car and drove off. We stopped at 3 more big bark-inspiring buildings like this before we finally stopped driving.

We were now in Pittsburgh at Uncle Jimmy’s and Auntie Linda’s big old brick house on a tall hill. When I saw what awaited me up the hill and inside the house, I was so glad to be there. I love steps and there were 2 sets of them outside and 2 sets of them inside. Jimmy and Linda and Joan and John were so happy to see me, they all petted me. The big black dog must be Reuben, I thought, and sure enough, he was. He had gray hairs around his chin and walked slowly, but his stubby little tail wagged happily just like my plumey tail, so I thought I’d try to play with him. When he began what I thought was a barking game, I barked back, and he backed off. The adults all laughed and said I was “alpha.” Later, after another little skirmish, they laughed and said “Now Reuben is alpha.” Between trying to prove our alpha-hood we didn’t get much playing in, which made me kind of sad. We just kind of respected each other’s territory for 4 whole days.

January 5, 2004
Nobody was as lucky as me today. Mommy and I walked in swirling snow. Above me, big white flakes fell. So many fell on me, my black hairs looked polka-dotted. The flakes were very wet too, so I had to shake myself dry every few minutes or so. When the flakes fell on the ground, they didn’t look polka-dotted, they just added to the white white white. Everything, and I mean everything, looked white. Some white places I walked were so deep, I got my tummy wet. When we got home and Mommy wiped the wet off my feet, she said the snow had cleaned the dirt off them. That’s a good thing, because it means less time wasted hanging by the back door while someone cleans my feet. The only bad part about so much snow is that little balls of it get between my paw pads and feel funny till they melt.

January 8
After Daddy went away this morning, Mommy and I went away in the car too. I sat up big and tall in the front seat, because after that Pittsburgh trip, I am a much less anxious traveler. Mommy said so herself. I was just getting impatient when we arrived at a new place—for me anyway. But Grandma and Grandpa were inside and wanting to pet me, so it didn’t seem strange for long. I don’t think I was a very good boy today. I don’t know why I barked so much at Grandma and Grandpa’s, but I did. Mommy kept having to take me outside to go potty. She didn’t think I had to go, but I did every time. I wore myself out and slept all the way home.

January 13
The snow is crunchy and crystal-y now, and my feet punch holes in it. I like the sounds. But the snow in my throne room is now gray and shiny and slippery.

January 15, 2004

According to my parents, today is my birthday. Never having had a birthday before, I am not sure what this means, except they say I’m a “big boy” now. I don’t remember growing bigger last night. Anyway, they kept telling me how long till my birthday party, which I also didn’t know the meaning of. Well, after they finished dinner tonight was my party. Daddy put a big black box on three tall sticks on the table and sat me in the chair at the end of the table, with my paws on the table. (Oh, I forgot to mention in the afternoon, he gave me a serious bath, which is about my least favorite thing in the whole world, which I find out now why he did that to me on my birthday. The big box takes pictures, and a birthday party is apparently all about being clean for pictures—thus, my bath.) Daddy put a colorful cone on my head, which I was very patient about, even though it kept sliding down to my eyes on my silky soft head hairs. There was a plate in front of me with doggie bone-shaped treats on it and a Number 1, which I don’t think was a doggie treat, because it had a little fire on the top of it. And there was a colored lump in front of me too. I was a good boy and didn’t try to eat anything, because I was pretty busy trying to figure out what was going on. Once Mommy put a cone on her head and looked up with me at Daddy till the big flash came.

Well, after a while, Daddy pointed to the colored lump and said it was a prezent. I sort of remembered the day called Krissmiss not long ago when I watched 13 people tearing bright colors off boxes and figured this was a prezent for me to open. Daddy wanted me to tear at the colors, but what he didn’t realize was that the best part of this whole silly birthday party game was getting to sit up at the table, just like he and Mommy do when I can’t come up. “Charlie, we’re eating our food now. Go play by yourself for a while.” I hear that every night. But here I was, sitting up tall at the table. If I tore at the prezent with my paws and teeth, I’d lose my balance and be right down on the floor again. He helped me tear the colors off, and my prezent was a squirrel! Well, then I had to get down on the floor so I could welcome him to my toy basket by chewing his tail till it was good and slippery. Later, when Mommy played fetch with me and my new squirrel, he squeaked when he bounced off the wall, but I haven’t found where the squeaky place to bite down on is yet. I will though, trust me, I will.

Three other things happened on my birthday. One was my right front paw leaked red when I got my nails clipped. It didn’t hurt too much, but it was messy. The other was Mommy took me for a walk in my checkered sweater and all my boots. When I galloped, my feet went clump clump, clump clump. When I ran on the hard snow hills, they went clump crunch, clump crunch. It was a noisy walk. The third thing was that on my last, late trip out to my throne room, it was dark and quiet and still, with big white flakes landing on my nose and ears. It snowed on my birthday!

January 21
Two different things happened after supper. Mommy finished her food first and put me in her lap. I put my paws on the table and watched Daddy finish his food. This was different because Daddy usually finishes his food first and then lately he has been putting me on his lap at the table. By the time Mommy finishes her food, I have fallen asleep with my chin on the freshly licked placemat. I like this so much that sometimes I try to get on Daddy’s lap before he has finished eating his food, but then I hear, “Charlie, I’m eating my food. You’ll have to wait.” I’m hoping my parents will gradually make this table-thing a regular thing, like sleeping in bed with them was, and it looks like they just might!

Now, this next different thing is really different. Mommy did Buns of Steel. She looked so silly swinging her arms and legs around that I had to see what was prompting this. She was watching the big black box where people do things on the front and say things too. There were a bunch of people on the picture box doing the very same swingey thing. Well, I figured I’d better stay out of the way lest I end up with a kick in the head, so I curled up in the back corner of the room and watched from under Daddy’s chair. But then all of a sudden Mommy’s head was on the floor with her legs out in front of her, so right away I laid down with my back to the backs of her legs. Little did I know, the kicking was going to start again, and little did she know, I was now snuggling up to the very legs that were about to begin kicking. Well, we resolved this with no injuries to either of us, and I went searching for another safe place. Mommy was still lying on the floor, so I put my whole body down on top of her outstretched arm and proceeded to lick her hand to the beat of the music. So we did Buns of Steel together for awhile. But since I already have buns of steel, I decided to exercise my teeth and jaws for awhile. I worked really hard and finally worked a wad of my stuffed Christmas slipper loose. Just when I was about to reap the rewards, Mommy tried in vain to stop me from swallowing it. She explained some nonsense about wanting to protect my stomach from getting sick, like I could care. I rewarded her concern by throwing up on her bathroom rug in the middle of the night.

January 24
When my parents went away today, it was bright out and when they came back, it was way past dark. I was so excited to see them, I jumped up and kissed Daddy a lot, then ran to Mommy to jump up and kiss her a lot. Then back to Daddy, then Mommy. After Daddy brought me inside from going potty, I ran upstairs to find Mommy. I about knocked her to her knees jumping on and kissing her. I held the sides of her face in my paws like I do my toys, and I licked and licked the sides of her face and even her glasses and then her nose over and over. She giggled and laughed and giggled and laughed. Pretty soon the sides of her face tasted salty to me. When Daddy asked what all the giggling was about, she told him I’d kissed her for 5 whole minutes. Boy, when my parents come home, I am SOOOO happy to see them!

January 25
All toys are fun, but I never knew any that would talk to me—until today. When Mommy and Daddy came home from someplace, Daddy gave me a green and yellow hard ball with tiny holes in it. When the ball rolls, it talks to me. To me, it sounds a little like gobbledegook baby talk, but Mommy says it sounds like the ball is inhabited by the Chipmunks saying “oh-oh, ya got it?” Speaking as a bona fido (get it?) member of the animal kingdom, I cannot imagine chipmunks sounding like this, though I’ve never actually met one. Mommy and Daddy think I might meet squirrels and rabbits and skunks here, but they haven’t said anything about chipmunks, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get to test out my theory. Anyway, I pounced on the ball and pranced around it till I figured out that if I roll it with my paw, it talks, but if I stop it with my paw, it stops talking. Also, if I walk around with it in my mouth, it keeps talking the whole time. My babble ball is like having a playmate.

February 5
We went to the DP today. That’s what my parents call the dog park when they don’t want to get me too excited in case they decide against it. But today they decided yes, so they told me we were going to the dog park. Normally, the whole drive there I do my eager-whine because I am so excited, but today Mommy asked me to be a patient puppy, so I was. I didn’t start whining till we turned in to the DP. At the DP I ran and ran and ran—in the snow, snow, snow. It must have been pretty cold, ’cuz the only thing showing on my parents was their eyes, and not very much of their eyes. I hardly recognized them, so sometimes I jumped up on other people by mistake, but they didn’t seem to mind. There weren’t very many other doggies to romp with, but there was one big black curly one that liked playing with me. She was a little rough, so I growled sometimes, but I had fun playing. When we got home, Mommy took me down the basement to what she called Puppy Spa. She laid me down on the big shiny white boxes and used a warm towel to get the ice balls out of my paws. I was just so glad not to be getting a bath.

February 11
Mommy called me a lert today. It’s not like her to insult me, so I guess I’ll take it as a compliment. We were playing fetch with my rope and I was really on top of my game, so a lert is probably something like a superstar.

March 10
Mommy called me another name today: squirty scootey smoochie poochie. My tummy made squirting sounds, which we all know means I’ll probably spit up soon. And then all of a sudden I was propelling myself along the floor on my butt in panicked fashion. Mommy took me outside right away, where I immediately threw up and went potty. She was not very happy when she saw what came out of my front and back ends—4 whole ivy leaves from her plant in the dining room. Now I know why Mommy and Daddy tell me not to eat the plants. I was so happy to not feel sick any more that I licked and licked and licked Mommy’s face. All day she sang “squirty scootey smoochie poochie” to me.

April 11
The morning was zig-zaggy which threw me off, but I rolled with the punches. First, my parents got dressed up and went away. I sat in my cage for a few hours. Then they came home, which usually means they play with me. This time though, I had barely gotten a few licks in when they put brightly colored cloths over their nice clothes and made their hands go really fast. Daddy shaved all the skins off what seemed like hundreds of orange potatoes and lots of little garlic balls. Mommy laid slices of these things in 5 pans and did some other stuff and put all the pans in the oven. Then they ran around the house grabbing things to put in the car. I just watched them zig-zag around. I wanted to play, but figured there was an adventure coming, so I was a patient puppy. Sure enough, I got to go with them in the car. I was a good boy—no, I was a great boy—on this trip. We ended up at Grandma and Grandpa’s this time, and there were lots of laps there. But you know, I wasn’t as interested in laps this time as I was in playing. Even Grandpa noticed it. I think maybe he liked it better when I was just a little boy and all I wanted to do was be on his lap so he could scratch behind my ears. Anyway, Mommy played “chasing Charlie” with me. I won. Then Cousin Jeremy played “chasing Charlie” with me. I won. I am very fast when my paws don’t slide on a slippery floor. On Grandma and Grandpa’s fuzzy floor, I could turn on a dime. Around and around, back and forth, I was uncatchable.

April 17
It has been very warm outside lately. I know, because I have gotten to be on the patio a lot. A few days ago, I pulled my anchor over to the roses and ate the bark that was under them. Turns out that is a no-no. So now “no bark” has a double meaning. I still bark, but I don’t eat bark.

Mommy has spent so much time outdoors lately, which means she hasn’t spent much time indoors, which means there are tumbleweeds blowing along the floor. My fallen-out hairs glump together and tumble around in the breeze my running makes. The hair glumps also wrap themselves around my toys when my toys roll under the furniture. Mommy says it’s a mystery how the hair of a dog can turn into a dust bunny.

May 26
This week is a bummer, although I did get to go on one walk with Mommy and her friend. It’s only Wednesday, so maybe there’s still a chance for more walks. Plus, it’s been raining. You wouldn’t believe the inside of my house. All the big furniture is in the middle of the rooms, and all the little stuff is piled on top of the big stuff. Guess who put it all there. Mommy and Daddy, which means they haven’t had time to play with me. My toys are missing. I don’t see them anywhere, so all I do all day is sit around and watch two men put colors all over the walls. Yesterday Daddy came home from work and said he didn’t want to live in a fun house, but I don’t see what is so fun about this house. This week there is no time for fun.

I had an embarrassing moment yesterday. All day Mommy tried to keep me away from the cans that had the colored liquid in them, away from the ladders, away from the men. It was so unfair. These men might have wanted to play with me! Anyway, I sneaked into the middle of the action as often as I could and I got away with it every time—until once. This one time, I emerged with bright blue tape stuck to my leg hairs. Shaking my leg didn’t loosen the tape, so I sheepishly approached Mommy for help. Busted. I thought she’d be mad, but she just ripped off the tape and checked me for new colors and picked me up and held me. She must have known all along I’d been visiting the painters all day.

July 2
Mommy and Daddy's friend, my Auntie Denise came last night. Usually her arrival causes wild joy in me. She comes in the door and sits right down on the floor to play with me. But first I have to lick her face a lot, and if she takes off her shoes, I have to lick her toes too. Then we play. I don’t like for Mommy and Daddy to leave, but if Auntie Denise stays with me, I like it. She doesn’t just take me out to my throne room. She takes me for 5 whole walks a day!

This time Auntie Denise came in the dark. I didn’t see much of her; I was too tired when she arrived. I slept with Mommy and Daddy as usual, but not for very long. When it was still dark outside, they got up and wheeled some cases to the front door and when a white car with a funny light on top of it pulled up outside, they left with their cases! I barked and barked and barked. Did they forget me? I knew something was up because of all the cleaning and ironing and laying clothes out on beds, but never in a million years did I think they’d leave me. I barked so loud, I could hardly hear “Charlie,” “Charlie,” “Charlie!” coming from upstairs. When I did finally hear it, I bounded up the stairs to find Denise in the other bed. I was so relieved not to be alone. I jumped right up on the bed and she held me and we fell back asleep.

Copyrighted material. All entries in Charlie's Journal and Charlie's Dog Blog are written by Jane Hoppe and may not be reproduced.

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