celebrities, dogs, funny stories, Germany

“Won’t you be our neighbor?”… My inner Mister Rogers

At about four o’clock yesterday afternoon, the doorbell rang. Since it was Martin Luther King Day and Bill was home, he answered the door. He was soon faced with a grim faced German man he’d never seen before, who started speaking to him. Bill said the man was a bit odd and even seemed slightly out of it.

Our older dog, Arran the beagle mix, started barking, as he always does when strangers come to the door. Bill couldn’t hear our unexpected visitor over the barking, nor could he really understand what the guy was saying, as Bill’s German skills are somewhat basic, but less basic than mine are. One word he did hear and understand was “Tierschutz” (animal protection), which immediately caused us some concern.

Bill told the guy that he speaks only a little bit of German. The guy got pissed and went to our landlord’s house next door. Bill then came up to our bedroom to tell me what happened. As he was explaining the bizarre scenario, the doorbell rang again. Thinking maybe it was the landlord coming over to tell us what was wrong, Bill answered it, and it was the same grumpy guy. This time, he seemed somewhat apologetic, although he didn’t actually apologize. He said something along the lines of “Your dogs are always inside.” Then he gave Bill a dismissive wave and stalked off.

I always get agitated when someone presumes to yell at me, or at Bill, for that matter. Especially if I’m in my own home, minding my own damned business. I told Bill that he should have borrowed my Mister Rogers cap, which is a bizarre Chinese creation that was offered for sale on Amazon.de last summer. I see that it’s now no longer available. Small wonder.

I bought the cap on a whim. I’m wearing it in the featured photo, which was taken right after I got out of the shower yesterday, hence my slight resemblance to Nick Nolte coming down from a GHB bender, circa 2002. One of my friends said I am better looking than Nick Nolte is. I was flattered by that, since Nick Nolte was People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1992. When she reminded me that 1992 was thirty years ago, I replied that, just like Nick, I was also sexier thirty years ago.

That photo of Mister Rogers has circulated quite a lot around the Internet. I once even made a meme of it, which I posted below. Mister Rogers was almost surely unaware of what his two middle fingers were indicating when that photo was taken. I see from a video on Dailymotion that it comes from a song he did with little kids, back in the day…

Hee hee hee!
Actually, I think this image is even funnier than the one with both middle fingers. I wish the enterprising Amazon.de seller in China had offered this, instead.
I made this meme years ago… The quote is by George Carlin. I think Mister Rogers and George Carlin would have made a hell of a team!

Bill and I handle these types of intrusions very differently. Bill is much more polite than I am, and he always attempts to speak German. When someone uninvited rings my doorbell and starts speaking rapid fire German to me, I usually interrupt them in English and tell them I don’t understand them, even if I do. Nine times out of ten, the people who do that stuff are either trying to sell me something or looking for odd jobs… or in a couple of unfortunate situations, they were people up to no good, casing the house to see who lives there and if they’re home.

Upon considering what the guy said, his strange demeanor, and the sort of half-assed non-apology the guy later gave Bill, we eventually determined that maybe the fellow is someone who lives in the neighborhood, but isn’t someone with whom we’ve ever interacted. We think he was upset that our German next door neighbor, who lives in the house on the other side of us, was leaving her adorable, but loud, Labrador dog, Tommi, outside. Tommi barks a lot when he’s outside. It is definitely noticeable, but it doesn’t bother me much. It’s not like he’s out there all day or anything. I think she or her mother puts him out there for a short time once or twice a day. While he’s out there, he lets everyone know he’s bored, lonely, or whatever.

It’s actually against the law in Germany to leave dogs home alone for long periods of time, and if they make excessive noise, some folks will call the police. We have been pretty lucky, as our neighbors have all been relatively dog friendly, even though we have usually had beagles, and beagles can be very loud. Now that we have Noyzi, it’s really only Arran who raises hell on a regular basis. Noyzi usually stays pretty quiet, unless he’s watching pet grooming or fox hunting videos. But I’m usually home with the dogs, and they aren’t allowed to be outside unsupervised.

Bill dresses down Arran for counter surfing. See? We do discipline our dogs!

Bill said he was sitting on the toilet and heard the man speaking to someone before he rang our doorbell. Perhaps it was the people who live across the cul-de-sac from us. Maybe he asked them who has dogs and they pointed to us. I don’t know if he knew we’re Americans and maybe figured we don’t know the rules here, or he just wanted to yell at dog owners who might be the culprit of his annoyance. But it was still a weird situation, as Bill didn’t understand him for three reasons– Arran was barking, the guy was rambling, and he was speaking German. And the cranky guy didn’t give Bill a chance to step outside to talk to him without Arran’s input.

Then, after he got frustrated trying to talk to Bill, the guy spoke to our other neighbors, who also happen to be our landlords. My guess is that our landlord, or someone in his house, told the guy that we never leave our dogs outside alone. So when he rang the bell the second time, he said “Bei Ihnen (unintelligible) immer”, which confused Bill, until he later translated it to “Bei innen (unintelligible) immer” (something like, “your dogs are always inside”). Then the guy gave him a resigned wave, and left.

It’s true that our current landlords are pretty laid back, and they get paid well to let us be their neighbors, but they’ve actually told us that they rarely hear our dogs. When we still had Zane, they were louder. Zane would go out in the middle of the night to pee and get on scents, which caused him to bay on occasion. But Noyzi doesn’t bark a lot, and Arran really only barks when someone rings the doorbell. He doesn’t even bay a lot when we walk him anymore. Tommi, on the other hand, is only around a year old. He’s young, energetic, and adorable, and yes, he barks like a big guy. I’m not surprised the sound carried.

Tommi was adopted after our neighbors lost their very sweet elderly Labrador, Levi, whom they adopted from an American who couldn’t take him with him when he moved. Levi was a WONDERFUL dog… very friendly, well-behaved, and a perfect citizen. I think our neighbors fell in love with Labradors, which aren’t necessarily popular over here. Unfortunately, Levi got very sick with cancer and died while he was having surgery to remove some tumors in his stomach. I’m sure Tommi will eventually become as sweet, obedient, and adorable as Levi was, but he’s still very young and rambunctious. Even our wonderful beagle Zane, whom I think had some Lab in him, was a holy terror when we first got him. After about six months, he morphed into the most wonderful family dog. It was like magic. I have every reason to assume that will happen for Tommi, too.

I suppose I should, in part, thank the pandemic for yesterday’s chance meeting with an apparently angry neighbor. COVID-19 has really altered our lives. Most of the years we’ve been in Germany, we’ve taken every opportunity to travel over long American holiday weekends. Nowadays, we’re more inclined to stay home, mainly because travel has become so complicated and annoying, even though Bill and I are both thrice COVID vaccinated. This year, we also need to get Noyzi updated on his vaccines, which will happen today.

I shared this story on Facebook and people loved my Mister Rogers hat. But only one person wanted to know where I got it, and NO ONE seemed interested in why I have it! One friend, who happens to be German, said it was because she’s no longer surprised by the crazy shit I say and do… and wear. For the record, I was inspired to buy the hat because of my dad. I’ve already shared the story about my dad and his middle finger woes.

The short version, for those who don’t want to click the link, is that my parents took me to visit the Waterside Marketplace in Norfolk, Virginia, back in 1984 or so, when it was still new. The Waterside had a really cool hat shop that had all of these funny baseball caps. I wanted one that had a little felt dog on the brim and a plastic fire hydrant. You could pull a string and the dog would lift its leg on the hydrant. Sadly, I didn’t have any money and my parents didn’t want to indulge my proclivities for being obnoxious.

Dad did make a purchase, though. It was a black baseball cap that had a bright yellow stuffed felt hand with the middle finger raised, big as life. My dad, who was never one to swear and was unaware of what the middle finger meant, bought the cap. He said he was going to wear it to his next Rotary meeting and say, “I don’t agree with ANY of you.”

My mom said, “You are not going to wear that, are you?”

“Sure! Why not?” Dad said with a laugh.

“You are NOT going to wear that in public!” my mom said, her voice edged with resolute firmness.

“Yes I am.” Dad argued.

“Do you KNOW what that MEANS?” Mom demanded.

“Doesn’t it mean ‘go to Hell’?” Dad asked, somewhat chastened.

“Uh uh.” Mom said, leaning over to whisper in his ear.

Dad kind of blanched sheepishly, and that was the end of his big idea to shock his conservative business friends and pillars of the community in Gloucester, Virginia.

Meanwhile, I thought it was funny that my mom didn’t want to define it out loud, since even at age eleven or twelve, I knew what a middle finger stood for, even if I didn’t know what “getting laid” meant. So I said, “Hey guys, I know what it means.”

The profane middle finger hat was kept under the driver’s seat of my dad’s car for many years, never to see the light of day. I wish I had stolen it from him. I thought it was hilarious, and I haven’t seen one like it being sold anywhere since the 80s. When I saw Mister Rogers’ middle finger on a hat, though, I figured that was close enough. And since it’s no longer available, I guess that hat was just meant to be mine…

Incidentally, my dad also suffered from PTSD, which was brought on by his time in Vietnam. Sadly, he almost lost his middle finger to injury when he had a nightmare and jumped out of bed one night, punching the wall. He didn’t take care of the injury properly, and came very close to needing an amputation. Yikes!

For an update on this post, click here.

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dogs, videos, work, YouTube

Professional dog grooming seems almost like making magic to me…

I had every intention of writing a fresh post yesterday for this blog. I did write one for the travel blog, although it wasn’t necessarily a travel related post. Bill has been using a new gadget to help him sleep better. I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to write a post for my other blog about it, since it kind of pertains to our home life, and the device comes from London. You can click here if you want to read that and hear us talk on a video. Otherwise, I will move on to the topic of the day, which is dog grooming.

A few days ago, I made a music video honoring Ronnie Spector. I wasn’t a big Ronnie Spector fan. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until 1986, when I was a high school freshman, and she sang with Eddie Money on his hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I actually got pretty tired of that song when it was popular, but now it makes me feel nostalgic. And it occurred to me that Ronnie Spector was a very talented performer who probably didn’t get the respect she deserved… especially from her ex husband, Phil Spector. I will have to read her memoirs and get more of the scoop on that, and the rest of her career.

Actually, this very sweet video probably led me to the stray dog video…

Because I made that video, as well as the one I made for yesterday’s travel blog/gadget review, I somehow also ended up also watching a video showing a stray dog in Serbia being rescued, rehabilitated, and adopted. Noyzi and Arran watched with me, and were really enjoying the video. Noyzi was especially excited by it and actually tried to bump noses with the shaggy, rescued dog named Albert who was adopted by a Danish diplomat.

A very sweet video about a dog who found love off the streets, which led me to Rover’s Makeover.

One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I had found Rover’s Makeover Dog Grooming’s channel… And that pretty much did it for the rest of our Sunday. Before I knew it, I had spent hours watching this Oklahoma lady named Marybeth shearing, shaving, and clipping the masses of stinky matted hair off of a bunch of long haired dogs. Marybeth says she does free jobs for some animals who desperately need to be groomed. The free jobs, naturally, tend to be a lot of work. Some of her videos run for a couple of hours. Much to my surprise, I watched several of them from start to finish. Because of that, I never got to my big computer to write anything. My travel blog post was written on my laptop as I watched Marybeth transform mangy mongrels into much happier, healthier pets.

This was the first video I watched. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I used to clip my dog, Rhonda, when I was a kid. She was a cocker spaniel/English setter mix, and she had long hair that would mat if we didn’t brush her a lot. Rhonda never got nearly as bad as some of the dogs on the videos Marybeth posts. My mom later found a groomer who took care of Rhonda’s grooming needs after my dad shaved her all over and made her look embarrassingly bad. Dad seemed to think Rhonda was like the sheep of his youth that he had to shear for his dad. He had no eye for the aesthetic when it came to grooming our poor pet… Rhonda might as well have been a fellow Air Force recruit, getting shaved before basic training!

As a teenager, I also spent hours grooming my horse, Rusty, trimming his whiskers, bathing him, feeding him supplements, and making him shine like a new penny before our big state horse show every year. But while it was satisfying cleaning up Rusty for the show ring, he was never so unkempt that he literally smiled at me after a clip and a bath.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, I had a go at cutting Bill’s hair with trimmers. I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. He never looked any more ridiculous than he usually does, anyway. But Bill doesn’t have matted hair.

Some of the dogs Marybeth grooms are so neglected that they can’t even stand properly. They have matted hair on their paws that force them to stand in an odd way, and cause their toenails to grow straight out instead of curved.

These dogs often smell pretty terrible, too, which makes people less likely to want to pet them.
This little sweetheart was in heat. Marybeth says she doesn’t usually groom dogs who are in heat, but the owners had driven four hours to get to her. Apparently, none of the local groomers would do the job.

While I can imagine this work is very physically demanding and often unpleasant, there must be so much satisfaction when Marybeth sees how much better the dogs look when she’s finished. In many cases, they can literally see better, stand and walk better, and no longer have to endure the heat and pain of hair that has pulled so tightly into mats and turned into a thick cloak. Remember, she is in Oklahoma, and it gets HOT there. I couldn’t help but share in the celebration, watching these animals transformed in a matter of hours.

Phew! This little cutie is smiling now!

Marybeth did mention that sometimes, people do dirty things, though… like ditch their animals with her. At the same time, she cautions her viewers not to judge the owners. Sometimes the “owners” are just people who found a badly neglected dog somewhere and rescued them from the street. Sometimes, the owners don’t have the money to groom their dogs properly, but they still love them.

When it comes down to, you just never know what someone’s personal situation is. Sometimes people take on pets when their health or finances are good, only to go through a severe financial or health setback that makes it impossible to take care of their pets properly. I have also noticed that people tend to be very judgmental when it comes to pets. I think sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for an animal is rehome them– to see that they go to a home where they can get the right care and attention. People will often judge others for doing that, too.

I’m just glad to see Marybeth doing this work for the animals. I can tell it’s a labor of love for her. She’s endlessly patient with the dogs, and so many of them seem to be much happier when she’s finished taking care of them. I’m sure their owners are happy, too.

YouTube is a treasure trove of talent. I’ve found so many YouTube channels with original content that offer fascinating glimpses into people’s lives. I follow so many content creators now, some of whom have been able to turn their channels into full time jobs. I have a very modest channel myself, which I mainly use as a supplement to my blogs and a place to put my musical pursuits. If I weren’t so camera shy, maybe I would make a video showing my face, too. Bill and I have talked about it. He’s as camera shy as I am, though. We would probably do a podcast where we don’t have to be camera ready.

Someone on RfM listened to my tribute to Ronnie Spector and said it led her to watch other videos. She said she found other musicians who never got the attention they deserved… and that just made me realize that for every famous person who has made it big with their talents, there are probably dozens more who are equally or even more talented and flew under the radar. The Internet makes it possible for some of those people to be discovered on YouTube or wherever else. In that sense, the Internet is truly awesome. Of course, it can also be the source of much drama and pain… but that’s a discussion for another post.

Anyway… I am glad I discovered Marybeth and her channel yesterday. Those dogs are so lucky to have her. I know she works very hard at what she does, but the results are so satisfying on so many levels. I know the dogs feel better; Marybeth can see the results of her work; and as a viewer, I can see the transformation right before my eyes, even if it takes two hours or more. Seriously… I can’t believe I watched as much as I did yesterday. I was glued to the channel.

I also got a couple of other chores done. I changed the strings on my guitar, which was easier than it was the last time I did it. I also ordered new lamps for our bedroom, because when I picked up my lamp for dusting yesterday, the base of it fell out without any warning. I bought those lamps with Epinions income share money when we lived in Georgia, about twelve years ago. They have served us well, but it’s probably time for new lamps, even if they are going to be 220 voltage.

Today, we are expecting a delivery of heating oil, which is always fun. Maybe after I practice guitar, I’ll go watch another grooming video. I actually caught myself thinking I might not mind doing that for a living… but then I remembered that I have a sore back that would probably not tolerate that work for long. So I guess I’ll just be content to watch Marybeth work and do great things for dogs in need as she educates thousands of viewers like me.

Edited to add: there is also an update on Leon the Lobster. His “dad” also got a sponsorship to help pay for Leon’s new home.

Leon is lucky, I guess.

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dogs, emergencies, home

I went all Granny T last night…

Last night, I was sitting in the dark living room, working on the latest jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly, I heard Bill, and he sounded concerned.

“Arran, come here. You can’t have that nut!” he said.

Arran, who celebrated his ninth anniversary as our devoted family member yesterday, came running into the living room. He was clearly in distress. Bill was grabbing him around the stomach. It looked almost like Arran was choking on something, but I could tell he was breathing.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s got a walnut in his mouth.” Bill said. Apparently, Arran had found an unshelled nut somewhere mysterious, broke it open with his teeth, and half of it was stuck on a molar. The other half, thank God, was in his bed. Walnuts are not really safe foods for dogs for a number of reasons.

“Oh my God!” I said.

Next thing I knew, my fingers were in Arran’s mouth, feeling around for the nut, which I thought was already halfway down his gullet. Vision of his sudden death flashed in my head as my fingers came out of his mouth, unsuccessful. I noticed splotches of blood on his right front paw, which he’d been using to frantically paw at his mouth, trying to get the walnut out.

I reached into his mouth again, determined to get the nut. I felt it stuck on his tooth. Somehow, I managed to grasp it and pull it out. It was all bloody, having cut the fragile gum tissue.

For a few minutes, all three of us were shellshocked by the sudden emergency. Bill had tears in his eyes as he comforted Arran, who was still scared and bewildered. I suddenly had a vision of my grandmother, Granny Tolley, who had a history of saving the day whenever one of her descendants got in trouble. I remember stories of Granny grabbing hatchets to kill snakes or break kids out of locked bathrooms. Granny died in July 2007, about six weeks shy of her 101st birthday. She was a tough lady.

After a few minutes, we were all a bit calmer, and Arran was back to sniffing the kitchen floor, hoping to find something edible that was dropped. He was perfectly fine within twenty minutes or so, but Bill and I were still a little bit shook up. Arran is about 13 years old, and it looks like he will be the dog who will have the longest tenure with us.

Our dog, Zane, died just a couple of months before what would have been his tenth “gotcha day” anniversary with us. But we got Zane when he was younger, and he had more health problems than Arran has ever had. Zane was a ray of sunshine, but he was fragile, suffering allergies and three years of mast cell tumors before finally succumbing to lymphoma.

I don’t think Arran was in any danger of dying last night, as the walnut wasn’t lodged in his windpipe or throat. But it was definitely a scary situation. I was kind of pleased with myself for jumping in and helping him out. As for how Arran got the walnut, I don’t know… I think he might have found it in the backyard. We lost a tree last weekend, and it’s still lying in the backyard, waiting for better weather and “processing”. I think the tree’s fall has unearthed some stuff.

As for Noyzi… he missed the entire drama. He usually hangs out in his bed upstairs in the evenings, except when we’re eating. Even then, he shows up fashionably late, sometimes even after we’ve already finished eating. He goes outside, does a few frenetic poop runs, tends to business, drinks a shitload of water, then puts himself to bed. Lately, Noyzi has had some pretty disgusting diarrhea, so that’s been fun… especially with the muddy backyard. I’ve been giving him pumpkin to help bind his poop.

As I write this, both dogs have come into the office, begging for attention and a walk. It’s cloudy outside and I’m a little depressed. I’m tempted to stay in my cocoon… but I guess it would do us all good to take a walk and get some air. Maybe it will motivate me to do my much hated Thursday chore of vacuuming, and pick up my guitar for some practice.

Last week, I was inspired to record my version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” It turned out nicely, although it doesn’t have many hits. On that video, I used a lot of pictures of my dogs, who keep me sane. I noticed the YouTube guy I’ve been doing collaborations with did a version of the same song a few hours ago. I guess he was inspired.

Sometimes I feel like my dogs are my only real friends. I’m sure glad Bill and I were able to dislodge that walnut before Arran got really hurt. I’d like to keep Arran around for as long as possible. He’s such a sweet, loving, gentle dog, and he shows us every day how much he loves us. We love him right back.

If I get inspired to write again, maybe I’ll be back… but I’m feeling a little depressed today. It might be a day for reading and napping.

ETA: I just vacuumed the house, and when I went downstairs to put the vacuum away, Arran had managed to pull a small bag of treats off the counter and was trying to suck them down. Fortunately, he wasn’t successful. I guess he’s fine. Good thing these dogs are so loving and cute.

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book reviews, nostalgia

Happy Christmas Eve, 2021! A look at the magical world of Stephen Cosgrove…

After a couple of really frigid days in Germany, it suddenly warmed up today. I didn’t have to break the ice in Noyzi’s water bowl, as I have for most of this week. Our back yard is a mud pit, thanks to weeks of rain. Curiously, the rose bush in the backyard still has two blooms on it. It’s kind of poignant to look at it… those resilient crimson blooms are hanging on for dear life, even as New Year’s approaches. Maybe it’s a sign of hope.

It kind of reminds me of a book I loved when I was a horse crazy girl in Virginia. It’s probably no surprise that I loved reading, so the school book fairs were a big hit, as far as I was concerned. Sometime in fourth grade, I got hooked on children’s author, Stephen Cosgrove’s, books. I especially loved the ones he wrote about horses, and there were a lot of them. He also wrote books with other animals as the protagonists. I didn’t read as many of those books, because when I was a child, horses were my passion. I would probably love his other books.

I would definitely choose Stephen Cosgrove over Dr. Seuss. I guess that’s another way Ex and I are very different.

Cosgrove would marry animal characters with beautiful illustrations by his colleague, Robin James. The stories always had a winning combination of magic, royalty, fantasy, and morals. Since, as far as I was concerned, horses were the most beautiful animals, I was especially enchanted by his books about them in any incarnation.

One of my favorite stories by Stephen Cosgrove was his book, Shimmeree, which was about a majestic winged mare– a lightosaur– who lived in a crystal water droplet. The only colors in Shimmeree’s crystalized world were blue, gold, and silver. One day, Shimmeree discovered a speck of dust lands in a crack the droplet. Shimmeree and her friends had never seen dust before, and it scared them. They shied away from the dust, thinking it was dangerous, because it was a color they had never seen before– grayish-brown.

Some time passes, and Shimmeree and her friends continue to be worried about the dust and the strange pearl shaped seed within it. What was it? Was it dangerous? The leader of the lightosaurs wanted to destroy the seed before it harmed them.

Shimmeree stood up for the seed. She pleaded with her friends not to destroy the seed, just because it was different. Shimmeree offered to watch the seed, promising that if it turned out to be dangerous, they could destroy it.

One day, the seed broke open, and Shimmeree saw the color green for the first time. She went to tell the others, and they all rushed back to the seed. The green color casted by the light on the others, and they became truly frightened. They were going to destroy the plant, but Shimmeree talked them out of it. Then, while everyone slept, she moved the plant to another place.

When the creatures came back to destroy the plant, they realized it was gone. The group was thrilled that it was gone, but just then, it bloomed and cast the most beautiful shade of red, which was reflected on everyone. The group went to where Shimmeree had moved the plant, which had bloomed into a beautiful rose.

So pretty!

And Shimmeree and her friends learned that they had nothing to fear but fear itself… Below is a video reading of this story.

I loved this book when I was a kid!

I did love Shimmeree, but I don’t think it was my favorite Stephen Cosgrove book. I was just reminded of that story because of the tenacious roses in our yard. Usually, by this time of year, the roses are long gone. Given how challenging the COVID times have been, I think it’s kind of cool that the roses are still hanging on… or, it could just be another sign of global warming and climate change. This cynical side I have is one reason why I don’t think I would make a very good children’s author, as much as I loved to read children’s books.

I think my favorite book by Stephen Cosgrove might be Morgan & Me. I identified with the protagonist, although I don’t tend to “live in the land of Later”… I’m just not so good about cleaning up my room. I don’t procrastinate, though. I think I was just taken by the little princess and her trip through the enchanting forest, where she met Morgan, a unicorn whose horn was stuck in branches.

I miss some things about being a child.
Blessed are children’s authors who can come up with magical stories…

True to her nature, the princess promised to help the unicorn named Morgan. But just a little later…

She finally helped Morgan when she became bored. Once she freed Morgan, he followed her, until she fell into a lily pond. She asked Morgan for help, and he promised he would… but just a little later. The princess begged for help, since she knew she’d catch cold sitting on a lily pad. Then she realized why Morgan was doing what he was doing and apologized for making him wait. He lowered his horn and rescued the princess. She learned a lesson, and they became the best of friends!

Stephen Cosgrove wrote so many other awesome books for children that were easy to read, beautifully illustrated, and enchanting. I probably should order some of them to read on the days when I’m feeling especially cranky. Based on the YouTube videos people have made, reading Stephen Cosgrove’s books, he was very popular among people my age… especially the girls. I think a lot of my friends liked his book, Flutterby Fly. As you can see, Cosgrove would probably be inspired by Germany… many times, I have seen forests and meadows like the ones illustrated in his books.

I suddenly have an image of Vanessa Redgrave reading this… wouldn’t that be interesting?

Or Nitter Pitter, a story about a narcissistic stallion… I used to have a beagle like Nitter Pitter. He was gorgeous, and definitely knew it!

I loved this book, probably because it was about a regular horse…
And maybe because of this illustration, which inspired a lot of horsey dreams.

I often think about how much I would love to have horses in my life again, even though they are very expensive and require a lot of work. Some of my best friends in life were four legged… and the one who got me through high school was a very special Appaloosa named Rusty. He was my dearest confidant, and we made a great team. But real life was calling, so I left that world behind… Maybe someday, I can revisit it, although without as much intensity as I once had.

Last night, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog came into our bedroom and watched fox hunting videos with us. A year ago, he was terrified by the TV, especially when men were on the screen. But now he is fascinated by television, especially when there are dogs baying, as they do in fox hunts. I got a kick out of watching Noyzi react to the horses and dogs of Ireland. I used to fox hunt myself, back in the day, but fox hunting in Virginia isn’t quite as intense as it is in Ireland. Noyzi was very impressed by the show and even joined in with the barking. I always knew he was a hound at heart, even if he’s really a shepherd of some sort. I got three videos of Noyzi last night… below is the last one I took. Arran also got into it.

Anyway… I guess it’s time I got on with the day. I hope, if you’re celebrating, you have an excellent holiday– Christmas or whatever– and there’s no drama or strife. And if there is, I recommend watching a few videos of people reading Stephen Cosgrove books. They’ll take you away from the ugliness of this world for a few moments.

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dogs, family, Germany, YouTube

Our “Noyzi” year…

The featured photo was taken the day we adopted Noyzi– October 4, 2020.

Looks like it’s going to be another sedate Sunday here in Germany. Today is German Unity Day. It’s also Sunday, which means everything’s closed, anyway. Looks like rain is in the forecast, too. I have a feeling we’ll be chilling at home. Maybe we’ll watch a movie or get hooked on a Netflix show or something…

For now, though, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past year. It was a special year for many reasons, mostly because of challenges related to COVID-19, and because some people who were friends and relatives have moved on to the next world. It’s also special because this year, we’ve had Noyzi.

Bill and I adopted Noyzi last year after we lost our sweet beagle, Zane, to lymphoma. We had tried to adopt a dog from a local rescue, but it was during the first days of the pandemic. We weren’t allowed to travel to get him ourselves, so the rescue arranged for a pet taxi to bring him to us. The pet taxi driver who drove him from up north neglected to secure him properly before she took him out of the car. He escaped, and was killed on the Autobahn.

I was heartbroken after both of those dogs died. One day, I mentioned on Facebook that I really wanted another dog. My friend Mary happened to know an American woman who rehomes rescue dogs from Kosovo. Mary put me in touch with Meg, Noyzi’s savior, and we embarked on our journey to bring Noyzi home. It took about six months to get everything set.

First, we had to get a blood test for Noyzi to make sure he was rabies free. Then we had to wait for the borders to open, making travel to Kosovo possible for Meg. Then we had to arrange a weekend when we could meet her halfway and pick up the dog. I chronicled that trip on my travel blog, which you can find here.

Prior to picking up Noyzi in Kranjska Gora, a border resort town in northwestern Slovenia, we had never seen him in person. All I knew about him was what I had seen in pictures and videos of him. A lot of the photos and videos I had seen were of when he was a puppy. Consequently, I didn’t know how big he was before we picked him up. It’s a damned good thing we have a SUV. He had to ride in the back cargo area, because Arran was not too happy about having a new canine pal. The backseat also isn’t quite big enough for Noyzi, either.

Noyzi was petrified when we brought him into our house. He was confused by the glass doors, and bumped into them a few times, thinking that since he could see through the glass, he could just go outside. And when he first went outside, he wanted to stay there. I’m guessing it was because that was what he was used to. In Kosovo, he lived outside with a bunch of other dogs. They had shelter, but they didn’t spend all of their time in the shelter.

Within a couple of days, Noyzi realized that being inside was a good thing. So then he didn’t want to go outside, because it was like he was afraid we were going to make him stay out there all the time. He was afraid of both Bill and me, but he was less afraid of me. He wouldn’t let Bill pet him at first, and then he would only let him pet him if he was lying on his bedding. He would also submissively urinate when Bill made sudden moves, like taking off his belt or a jacket.

After a week, Noyzi got his own bed. It was his safe space. He would stay there about 95 percent of the time, never venturing beyond the immediate area around the bed.

Noyzi also did not know how to walk on a leash. I had to teach him that the harness and leash were his friends. After a few lessons, we trusted him enough to take a walk through the neighborhood. It was quite a thrill when he finally got the hang of it. And now, a year later, he demands walks every day. If I don’t take him out, he’ll bug me. He’ll even bark at me until I get up. Then, while I get dressed, he’ll goose me in the butt.

A few months ago, Noyzi abandoned the bed in the living room, where he’d been spending most of his time. Instead, he gradually moved himself upstairs, finally installing himself on some old bedding in my office. When it became clear that Noyzi wasn’t going to be sleeping downstairs anymore, I moved his big dog bed to my office. He now hangs out there most of the time, but he’s not averse to going to other rooms. He used to be afraid to leave his bed at all.

This is the first video we have of Noyzi. It was made a few minutes after we got him home. He was pretty scared.
This video was made almost a year ago. This is Noyzi’s very first bath, ever, in his lifetime. Notice that he seems to love it.
This video was made in early November 2020. Noyzi had finally learned how to walk on the leash.

Noyzi made friends with our next door neighbor’s Labrador, Tommi, who is very young and playful. For awhile, it looked like Tommi might crawl under the fence for a play session!

Sadly, Tommi doesn’t visit under the fence anymore.

In the spring, we put up a new fly screen, because the one we had was all torn up and Noyzi had destroyed it even further by pawing at it. Noyzi didn’t know what to make of it. He still comes bounding through it in a panic most days, but it no longer deters him from coming in or going outside.

It’s time I made a new music video…
Noyzi now tells me what he needs. He barks at me when he wants a walk.

As I’m writing this, Noyzi just came over for a pat on the head. He’s become such a loving, goofy, funny family member. He’s also remarkably well-behaved. I never even had to house train him. He somehow knew from the beginning not to pee in the house. I’ve only had to clean up a couple of messy accidents caused by dietary indiscretions. He does, on the other hand, shed a lot. Every week, I sweep and vacuum lots of hairy evidence that he’s in our lives.

I have never had a dog like Noyzi. Actually, I could say that about any of our dogs, but I can especially say it about Noyzi. He’s completely different from any dog I’ve ever had. He’s the biggest dog I’ve ever had, and the only one that wasn’t American. Most of my dogs have been hounds. We had a couple of dogs when I was a child who weren’t hounds, but they were small dogs that were easy to handle and move. Noyzi probably weighs about 70 pounds. Thankfully, he’s taught himself to jump into the back of the Volvo, which spares my back.

Noyzi on the day he left Kosovo… Two other lucky dogs also made their way to new homes that day.

Noyzi has really made a lot of progress from the shy, terrified, pariah dog he was a year ago. Now, he’s much more confident and happy to be part of a family. He’s even made some progress with his fear of men. He will come up to Bill for snacks, and when the plumber was here a few days ago, Noyzi bowed down to be petted. Just a few weeks ago, he would not have done that. It’s so rewarding to watch him evolve, and let go of all of those fears he’s had for so long. I think we were meant to have him… and having him has taught us so much.

Below are some photos that show Noyzi’s journey…

I’m so glad we adopted Noyzi. I have never regretted taking in any of our dogs, but having him has been especially rewarding and educational, on so many levels. He’s taught us so much about survival, trust, love, and Kosovo, which I will admit is a country I knew almost nothing about before we met Noyzi and Meg. He really is a wonderful family member. Even ol’ Arran is coming around to loving him as much as Bill and I do.

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