Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Life Literally Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever

Mom was kinda sad  because some peeps left a not good review up for her Meme-War about growing up and then finding Barkley --complaining that the writer talked about herself (dear dictionary - please look up Meme-War) and someone complained it wasn't stories of life from the dog's actual viewpoint.

So for those readers.  I just wrote a book that will blow Mom's out of the water.

Saturday - Through Abby's Eyes.
Bowl. . . . is empty.


Squirrel squirrel squirrel Squirrel squirrel squirrel Squirrel squirrel squirrel Squirrel squirrel squirrel 

havta potty

bowl still empty

The Bark-o-lounger is empty  - no humans on watch.


Recline. . . . . . . . . 


Blah Blah Blah Abby Blah Blah Blah Abby Blah Blah Blah Abby. .

pats, yeah pats, love love love love


moo moo moo moo moo mo  moo moo moo moo moo moo moo




walk walk walk walk

leave pee-mail for neighbor dog---

and small parcel for the squirrel


slurp slurp slurp slurp slurp

dribble on floor.

Blah Blah Abby

Toy smells like feet. Must Hide - valuable.

scratch my butt scratch my butt - right there  love love love love mom mom mom


The End

Someone call my literary agent!!! I'm going to be a best seller!

Saturday Treats

Bacon and eggs Empanadas.  Best ever dog treat ever.

I'm glad Mom didn't count the ones cooling on the counter.

Abby the Lab

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dogs Saving Dogs - Living a Charmed Life

Charms That Save Lives.     This rescue based business was was founded by two college students with the promise to create jewelry that uniquely expresses the beauty and courage of homeless pets, and raises money to protect them until they can be fostered or adopted.

In communicating with different rescue groups to find the best places to send sales proceeds from The Book of Barkley to help rescue dogs, I found Dog Saving Dogs and  bought one of the beautiful charm sets, which came with two, one for me, and one for Miss Abby-- happily noting they had set up their business and marketing in beautiful South Bend Indiana. Being a "Hoosier" for many, many years, that made me smile. And so I contacted one of them and asked for their story, delighted to find this company was founded by young men  more concerned with others, than themselves.
Keith and Maya

The Story began when Texas college student  Keith W. visited an animal shelter within walking distance of his apartment to take a photo for Facebook of a dog needing a home that he could share even if he couldn't adopt himself.  While he was there one of the volunteers brought out Maya, a  1.5 year old Staffordshire Terrier. She had been at the shelter for 6 months and had no visitors or adoption requests. He said she was the sweetest dog in the world. She knew how to sit, stay, shake, and just loved to be petted. In so many ways, she reminded him of another beloved pet, just in a Staffordshire Terrier body. He wanted to take her home, but as a full time student with no permanent home for a dog, he knew could not--he could only try and find her a home on his own.

Keith did all he could through social media to see if he could find her a home, with no response. Two weeks later, he went to the shelter again to visit her, only to find that Maya had been put down. One year from graduating he felt powerless to help her, having neither the money nor the means to help such dogs in the way they needed.

After graduating and starting out on his own, he knew donations were an option but he really wanted to see where the money went, and how it would help the dogs. That was the inspiration for Dogs Saving Dogs, but the specific idea (and the name!) came when he met Declan F. at a meeting for entrepreneurs.  Declan had been working with a friend on a new kind of surgery cone that would be a lot more comfortable for the dog. The two of them began talking and planning and Dogs Saving Dogs was officially started in November 2014.

Their mission, simply put, is to make rescue fashionable. In their own words - they want to give ordinary people the power to do something extraordinary, provide the necessary funds for an animal to be rescued from a shelter and brought to a pet rescue, where they will be fostered until they find a forever home.

The charm set comes with two charms, one for you and one for your four legged best friend, so that the two of you become partners in rescue. The Charms are nickel-free, non tarnishing and American made, with locally sourced materials, keeping the communities hard earned money local, so local business can grow and prosper. Their  commitment to American-Made, quality jewelry comes from their desire to create lasting and timeless art that has a positive impact on everyone involved.

With every set, they provide a paper insert that tells you exactly where your donation went. The donation is currently 50% of profit, the best they can do as a initial start up, but the goal is 100% of the profits once, they get going
Bear - the dog my charm set is helping to save.

Their story made me misty-eyed, thinking of the months Abby Lab spent in a high kill shelter, thin and sick and scared. I was so happy to be able to rescue her with the help of like-minded people and now, like these wonderful young men, want to make sure I do all I can to help other dogs. Because if we save one, or a thousand, we will know that there are people in the world that care. As Keith says - "every name that we engrave into a charm set is one more dog that gets out of a shelter and that much closer to finding a home and a family that will love that dog for the rest of its life." 

Please share and support their mission in memory of all the dogs we have loved.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stone Angels

A Chapter from the Book of Barkley - Stone Angels

Barkley is ever watchful, be it in the yard with a treat filled dog toy or inside.

He diligently watches the front and back doors, especially if I'm in the shower or sleeping during the day after a long trek home. He does it when we're at a friend's house.

The first time the UPS guy showed up at this address, the bark was deep and ferocious, to the point the UPS guy STOPPED in his tracks on the walkway, hesitating.  I cracked open the window and said "black lab!"

He smiled and came on up.  I slid open the door and said "do you want to meet him?"  And he said, "sure" at which point Barkley came out in full "I can't handle my licker" mode and got lots of pets.  I figured after that; they'd be fast friends, but the next time the big brown truck showed up with a box of reloading supplies, Barkley sounded off as if he wished to personally eat the bearer of all things Amazon.

So he sits, and he watches like some great dark stone angel.

I think of the stone angels that stand above the broken flowers that are laid upon the ground at the cemetery.  On any particular day, there will be a dark river of vehicles, washed and polished fluid flowing onto the grounds, circling and stopping around that depression in the earth that neither time nor sufficient airspeed will prevent our passage into. The vehicles move, almost as one, giving a sense of speed when speed itself is absent, even as those that held fast the wheels, unite in that implacable knowledge that the speed is no longer necessary.

We don't always plan on assuming the role of a guardian.  Defenders and protectors are often appointed (or what we refer to at work as Voluntold). Some are chosen by talent and bravery, some, simply because they are the only one available.

As a small child, I was asked by my best friend to take care of her "pet" frog while she was away for the weekend with her parents. I didn't want to do it, but felt like I had to. It wasn't a real frog, being made of some stretchy, green iridescent rubber, but she loved playing with it, dubbing it an "enchanted frog" able to lift any evil spell her brother could place on her princess dolls.

Unfortunately, Mr. Frog Prince was involved in an industrial accident involving an Erector Set and the laws of physics pertaining to stretchy rubber. He lost a couple of legs as an outcome.

I was heartsick for what I'd done, especially as it was never the intent, just another childhood experiment with tools and toys. I placed the remains gently in a piece of Kleenex and put them in a box and cried my eyes out. My Mom was less than pleased and visions of Lutheran hell (which likely involved Lutefisk and 1970's gym class wear) danced in my head as she made me write my apology. I delivered it with the ruined toy and a new, better toy to replace it, paid for with my allowance for the next month.

My friend forgave me, but I did not forgive me. Not for a while.

Years later, frogs fared no better in my care, but eventually I was entrusted with not just power tools, but hearts and lives. It is why I do what I do. On my head is a ball cap with the letters of my duty.  In my pocket is a piece of brass on which rests a number that will retire with me.  It is shown only with respect to access those places where the sanctity and story of what remains are inviolate. In my truck is a blue lunch box that looks like the Tardis. All are parts of me, the one who will be forever the child amazed by the unknown, and the other, the one who was entrusted with something precious, determined this time, not to break it.

In another place, far away, comes a river of vehicles, mostly trucks, still flowing in towards desecrated ground. It is a landscape of scarred ground, in which the rumble of thunder and the banshee scream of the wind still echoes. Those traveling within are unprepared for what they see, a hundred streets now a single vista, with missing corners and trees whose roots now seek their moisture directly from heaven, all broken by intervals of splintered lives and stolen plans.

Through the area, there is movement, those still looking for survivors or simply what was home, here in that interchangeable section of streets without form, without remembered names.  The vehicles silently pass by, in as much shock as respect. Though the vehicles bear souls inside, they also bear much more behind - water, food, diapers, wet naps, pet food, small things, even the smallest of which will fall as coins from the sky for those that have nothing.

There are  times that even the bravest can not protect, when the stoutest of hearts and the firmest of faiths can not defend from the wrath of mother nature or the evil intents of man. But this is a land where they still trust in God even as He watches as the sky smites the earth.  It is a place where they still trust in mankind's goodness, even as they know, how man can smite innocence as well as any natural disaster. This is a place where they know that people will band together with hands and hearts and sweat and prayer, to help. Some might term those that arrive to help as angels.  But they are not. They are simply flawed human beings who remember what it is like to hurt, from the pain they've received, for pain they've unwittingly caused.

The vehicles continue on to their destination, drivers pressing the foot to the gas even as they are mindful of the dangers. For on this day, speed is of the essence as there are so many waiting, and needing.  The vehicles try to stay together in some sense of orderly uproar, even as dust causes the eyes to weep, the remnants of bitten branches waving in a brightening sky as they pass.

They are not here specifically to protect or defend, or even, perhaps, to keep. Perhaps like Barkley, they are here, humbly and quietly, to leave some healing water for broken flowers, before heading back to home

 - excerpt from The Book of Barkley by LB Johnson  (June 2014)


It's six below zero.  I think I'll just hang out on Mom's futon while she writes. Stay warm my friends.
PS Mom said to tell you all that The Book of Barkley is FREE today at the Kindle store if you are housebound and bored for something to read (well - those of you with opposable thumbs)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Memories of Barkley - Internet Dogs

LBJ's Diary - Sometime in Winter 2012

After living out of a suitcase the last few weeks both with and without Barkley, I was looking forward to a quiet weekend of sleep, making some French pastry from scratch and catching up with friends.

It felt good to be home, Barkley was more than ready for mischief (so much for the spare roll of T.P.)

Then I turned on my laptop.  It's been getting slower and slower the last few times I used it. So Friday night, when it kept knocking me off line, I took it over to the coffee shop and tried their wi fi. It worked great.  It's not the computer.

I called Brighthouse in the morning. I had been a customer of ComCast before I moved.  At ComCast the only way to get a real person to speak to was to select the menu option indicating you wanted to SUBSCRIBE to Comcast, not that you already had it, and you'd have someone on the line in seconds.  But for tech support, be prepared to hold for an hour or more.  IF you got someone, they were LESS than helpful.

Now I have Brighthouse.  I'll be honest, I didn't have high hopes.  I'd called them to pay the bill once, that works pretty well with a voice recognition help desk provided you don't get distracted.

"Thanks for calling Brighthouse Network."

"Are you calling from a phone associated with this account?"    "YES"

"In a few words tell me what you're calling about."    "MAKE A PAYMENT"

" What is the last four digits of your SSN?"  and more and more question, watch the clock tick, wishing your computer wasn't acting up.

"Do you wish to make the payment of. . . "     "Great Leaping Horny Toads Barkley, those are my NEW panties!"

"I don't understand what you are saying". 


"Thanks for calling Brighthouse Network."

So I didn't have high hopes for tech support. But someone answered! Within a couple of minutes.  A human who spoke with a Midwest Accent. I explained the issue and what I'd tried to troubleshoot.  They did some tests and sent out a well trained and polite technician within 2 hours. 

My modem was bad. I have the Internet now. Yes!!  I write, I surf, I comment, I bake layers of pastry with real butter, there's a shot of Jameson and a bubble bath and a big black dog happily asleep on my bed (OK, just for tonight)

Sunday dawns - No Internet.  I call again. They checked the signal, which was fine, and asked "do you have McAfee".  This doesn't sound good.  Apparently McAfee had a problem with a recent update.  It's not allowing Internet access.  Brighthouse was just notified.  "Here's their support number to call, they'll walk you through a uninstall and reinstall."

I call,  I'm on hold.  For an hour and 30 minutes.  Music is playing that I can only describe as Japanese Monstor Film Musical Score.  Plus it's the same song as well, over and over and over. I start going through the give stages of Internet use.

Denial - I know that if I click on send really fast at least 37 more times it WILL work.

Anger -  If I see that little (edited for general audiences) with the Geek Squad shirt that sold me this. .

Depression -  Everyone else is on line but me (have big sad-eye stare down with black lab).

Bargaining - Lord - give me back my Internet access and I'll take back that prayer about a large meteorite and a certain member of Congress.

Acceptance  -   I'm beginning to LIKE this music. 

I don't need them. I can uninstall.  OK, I can uninstall after I call EJ to ask how to do it, bribing him with the mental image of baking croissants.

We're uninstalled, internet access is restored.

But I didn't reinstall.  Not McAfee anyway.

Instead I picked another anti virus program  a friend recommended and downloaded it.  I don't care that I already paid for McAfee, never hearing that music again will be worth it.

Now for that French Pastry.

Notice Anything New?

Amazon #1 Best Seller logo on the sidebar.  The Book of Barkley hit #1 at Amazon this morning in the Kindle Store.

If you'd like a paperback copy please go bid on one that's available for the auction at Winnie's Wish as Amazon completely sold out.  This will ensure the rescue cats will soon get extra space to be safe and comfortable at that wonderful non--profit. But don't worry Amazon will have some more soon.

Click on the Winnie's Auction banner on the upper right sidebar to see all the really neat items for sale including a couple of other pawsome dog books and wonderful hand crafted items.  We're bidding - you should be too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day

The origins of this day, the week before Ash Wednesday is one steeped in history,  It's also really good covered in real maple syrup with sausages, especially as "breakfast for dinner".

As usual, I was left with a bowl of NastyDryCrap  and water but if I give Mom the sad eyes she'll give me a treat  later.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Help Winnie's Wish Build a New Cat Room

Thanks to our Pug friends George, Toby, Lily and Mimi at Pugs and Purrs Blog - we found out about an auction for Winnie's Wish Building Fund - an animal rescue totally support by donations.  The money is to build a new room to provide a safe haven for cats without families until they can find their furever homes.  There are well over 50 items up for bidding for cats, dogs, and peeps, many beautifully hand-crafted.

At the top of the site is the current bids.  To see photos of each item scroll down to the bottom of the auction page and leave a comment with your bid in the comments section for that pictured item, just as if you were leaving a comment on a blog post. To go to the auction go to the banner that you see in this post that's also on the upper ride sidebar of this blog and click on it in the sidebar to go directly to the auction website.

 Thanks for taking the time to look at all the near things they have to offer and make a bid.You are welcome to use this banner above with the web address  to advertise it on your own blog, as the more traffic they have, the sooner those kitty cats will be helped.

Remember - Abby the Lab Says - 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Black and White Blog Hop - Post Heart to Heart Dance

I had such a good date with Joey but I'm all tired from the fun!

Thanks to hosts Nola and Sugar for the Blog Hop.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart to Heart

  • Murphy and Stanley are hosting the Heart to Heart Dance and Abby is having the time of her life.  With the snow stopped and the house quiet, her Dad presented me with a little gift he made down in the shop.  It made me laugh.  We're going to enjoy a quiet day at home, curled up with books--- being thankful for a marriage between best friends and the love of a dog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grandpa's Summer Vacation - Memories During the Snow Days - By Abby the Lab

Bud meets Buddy

Abby the Lab here with a little story of Mom's 94 year old Dad  "Bud" that she's going to write up for me.

Mom's extended family has always had a home somewhere in the mountains, sometimes a full time residence for someone, sometimes, a summer or winter place. This is their favorite, built by Mom's Cousin L, from the remains of a shack she bought with some land. Mom's dad has spent many a holiday there for a long time, but not last year  as his health seriously declined.  He didn't think he would ever see it again as it's such a long trip and Mom's brother always came with him, making that two day drive each way and helping him in and out of the vehicle. But with her brother going to the Rainbow Bridge  to meet up with Barkley a couple of weeks after he journeyed there, her Dad doubted there would be anyone willing to make that long trek, twice in just a few months. Mom is willing, but with the flights back and forth to the West on the long weekends to make sure he is safe and happy, there just aren't enough vacation or leave days to use to do it all by herself.
But Mom and her cousin hatched a plot that involved 48 hours of driving for the round trip, a quick kidnapping (after coordination with the doctors for a pre "snag" check up and extra supplies.)  With the assistance of a strong, dashing man and a little cattle dog, they made it  in two days, with a stop to visit some great grandchildren along the way.
" Hey Bud -  you'll be staying in the summer "Guest Cottage" 
Here's your room, we were just kidding about the guest cottage.
 And the view of the back 40 is pretty nifty.
 Some things don't change, though the round rock collection is growing.
And the hives.
Here's my granddad in his bee hat, babe magnet every time.
He thinks he looked more dapper in his WWII uniform (that's him on the left) but he's happy anyway.
Because our family motto is sweet and clear.  Just Bee Happy!
So much to do over the summer.  Fourth of July!  Somehow I think alcohol was involved in this.
Some time at the lake. Bud let the youngsters play in the water.  He was just happy to sit in the warmth and share a glass a wine with one of his local friends.
 Mom's family doing their best to ensure the store's beer supply stays fresh.
 There's always evenings at the social club.
Or time at the old swimming hole.
 No, we didn't have bacon for breakfast.  Honest.
Mom calls, seeing what we're having for supper.
 The mountain air is invigorating.  Let's go for a walk on this deserted road with our humans.
There's no traffic at all, just some happy dogs.
Bud and cousin L. get to walk each day too, with a little help from C. who is a registered nurse. 
And their squadron of rescue dogs.
After the outdoor time, a little snack is in order.
Someone is always baking up something.
And a little relaxing as evening sets in.
Camera shy Dottie and Girlito the cat.
The summer flies by, quicker than we imagined, leaving on galloping hooves (like Buddy and Taxi the horse)
 Happy 94th Brithday to Bud!  Homemade Cake!
This is Mom's "family"  that shared in my summer and his special day. Only one of them is related by blood, the rest adopted, sharing a last name, or simply their lives, part of each's other's pack, rescuing one another, in so many little ways.

Before long, it would be time to head back, Cousin L. driving Bud north where they would meet Mom, who flew out from Chicago to meet them and take Dad to the Beach for the last of his summer fun. While Dad was gone for the summer, Mom got his whole house cleaned and repainted as it had a lot of smoke damage from a kitchen fire. She has a full time home health aide now so he doesn't have to worry about cooking.   She also put in new appliances for him so he doesn't have to wash dishes by hand any more or bend down to get something from the freezer. Her Dad is welcome to live with us and with L., but he wants to spend the remainder of his days in the house he shared with two wives and two children that he all outlived. Mom, the baby of the family, adopted late in his life, is doing all she can to make that wish come true, while keeping him safe and healthy.
But first, one last trip to the creek.
I just know there's a salmon in here somewhere.  I saw a bear do this once.
Good dogs - good memories - good times.

Abby the Lab