The Fabulist Tale of Bugsy

The fabulist tale of Bugsy begins in Africa, a very big continent far, far away.

His mom told him they were going on a vacation—she called it a “safari” —where they would see wild animals like zebras and giraffes and elephants and many more. Bugsy knew about those creatures from watching shows on Animal Planet, but the little dog could not believe he would actually meet them in real life.  He could hardly wait!

When the big day finally arrived, Bugsy and his mom got on a plane and 16 hours later they landed in a very hot, very crowded city. Their safari leader was waiting and away they went! Bugsy and his mom were soon being driven  through enormous plains dotted with only a few trees here and there.  Eventually they reached a big tent where they would be staying each night so Bugsy helped his mom put their belongings away.

Bugsy, his mom and three other people climbed into a jeep and off they ventured on to  the first day’s adventure. There wasn’t much to see at first but then out of nowhere a group of elephants walked by with enormous tusks and swinging their trunks back and forth. Bugsy had never seen such a big animal in his life!

The group drove on and this time they saw a herd of zebras. Suddenly Bugsy saw a lion moving stealthily towards the group. As soon as the zebras saw him they ran away as fast as they could but there was one who didn’t.  It was a zebra momma and her baby that was still learning to walk so she refused to leave without him.

As the lion got closer to the two zebras, who were now very scared, Bugsy knew he had to do something. So he jumped out of the jeep and ran to the momma and its baby. Bugsy’s mom kept calling him to come back but instead, Bugsy  stood in front of the zebras and faced the approaching lion. Although he was at least ten times larger than Bugsy and had huge teeth and sharp nails, the lion stopped and stared at this strange little beast. He had never seen a dog and did not know what to do. He thought about it and then turned around and walked away. The zebra and her baby were safe so off they went to join their herd.

Bugsy trotted back to the open door of the jeep and jumped on his mom’s lap. She cried with joy because her precious fur baby was safe but also because she was so proud of him she could burst!

The safari continued its journey for several days and many miles.  Bugsy saw giraffes with their impossibly long necks and hippos and rhinos that were cooling off as they lay submerged in watering holes.

Every time the group drove through a village, all the people came out and cheered when the jeep came to a stop. Everyone had heard of the brave dog who faced down a dangerous lion and won. Villagers took Bugsy’s picture and newspapers from all over Africa wanted to interview him (even though they couldn’t understand what Bugsy was saying).

And that is the tale of Bugsy, the most courageous dog in the world!

The Fabulist Tale of Mork and Mindy

The fabulist tale of Mork and Mindy begins in Europe, a very big continent with many countries.

Mork and his dad decided to go on an adventure so they flew overseas to visit them all.They wandered through England’s royal palace and rode a gondolier clear to the top of the Swiss Alps. Mork watched as Holland’s windmills went round and round and he romped through that country’s tulip fields that stretched longer than the eye could see. Mork loved his dad dearly but sometimes wondered how nice it would be for someone to share all the sights and saw all the beauty the same way he did. He was very sensitive (as all dogs are) and knew his dad felt the same way.

Mork’s dad saved the best for last: Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Some people call it the City of Light. But many others think of Paris as the City of Love. He told Mork the French treated their dogs better than anywhere else. And his dad was right: they were everywhere! The dogs and their people went to museums and strolled down the Champs Elysses, the most famous boulevard in the world, sometimes wearing diamonds and jewels. Mork joined them as they romped and played in the Tuleries garden.  Dogs were even allowed to visit the Eiffel Tower!

So Mork and his dad went to the famous tower, got in the elevator with other dogs and their people and then rose clear to the top. Mork and his Dad looked out huge windows and the whole beautiful city lay before them. Out of the corner of his eye, Mork saw a pretty dog that was just his size. He looked closer and his heart skipped a beat. Her mom was also very pretty, which his dad noticed. Mork barked softly and his dad smiled at the nice lady. The two humans moved closer and began to talk so Mork and Mindy (which he later learned was her name) also talked in their own way and found out how much they had in common. She and her mom also traveled the world and Mindy admitted that she, too, was lonely and wished for another pup to share her adventures.

Mork and Mindy’s parents left together and went to one of the fanciest restaurants in the city where and just like everywhere else, dogs were welcome. Like the grownups, Mork and Mindy were seated at a table that had linen tablecloths and candles and sterling silver knives and forks. Mork didn’t know what the humans ate, but he and Mindy ordered steak, which arrived in little pieces so they could practice their table manners.

Mork and his dad had planned to stay just a few days in Paris, but the days stretched into weeks. The four got together practically every day and the more Mork got to know Mindy the more he realized that Paris really was the City of Love because this was where he found the most perfect pup in the world.

Although Mindy’s mom lived in Maine, she and Mindy boarded the plane with Mork and his dad and flew to their home in San Francisco. Not long after, their mom and dad had a fancy wedding and guess what? Mork and Mindy got married too!

The Fabulist Tale of Jess

The fabulist tale of Jess begins in Portland, Oregon.

She lived in a giant store that sold televisions and watched shows on the giant screens. She liked the ones where animals played or people cooked delicious meals. Best of all were the shows where families decorated their homes. She liked those the best because Jess wished she was part of someone’s family. One day, she trotted by one of the giant televisions that always showed sports. Jess didn’t like sports because it always looked like the people were mean to each other. But this time, she saw dogs pulling sleds in the snow. Jess discovered her dream right then and there: she would go to Alaska and be a sled dog! She would make sure the team she chose would win.

Jess walked all the way to Alaska and found a famous dogsled race called the Iditarod, pronounced eye-DID-ah-rod. She was very, very cold until a nice man wrapped her in a very thick parka, just the right size. Cookie then trotted over to the dogs, Siberian Huskies with thick silver fur and six times bigger than her. They seemed excited about the race so she knew it must be fun. Jess asked Starlight, the biggest Huskie, how she could join the team and Starlight sent her over to the sled driver. The driver, who was the same man who wrapped her so warmly in a parka, found a little basket and put it on the handlebars of his sled. Jess jumped right in! When the bell rang, the sled practically flew, it went so fast. And sure enough, her team reached the finish line before all the others. The sled driver knew it was because of Jess so he took her to his warm home to live with him and his family. And every year, Jess would ride in her basket and every year her team won!

The Fabulist Tale of Liam

 

The fabulist tale of Liam begins in the green grasses and rolling hills of Ireland. Sheep are
everywhere and their wool is prized for the finest yarn. Liam had watched a herd in the nearby
pasture since he was a puppy. He loved to watch the sheep as they wandered about to graze on
the lush grass and the lambs as they played and frolicked in the fields. But no matter how much
they were enjoying themselves, the sheep obediently trotted to their barn at the end of the day
when the sheepherding dogs told them to. The sheepherders didn’t actually talk, but instead
circled the herd and nipped at their heels until all of the sheep trotted away out of Liam’s sight.
As Liam grew up, he dreamed of working as a sheepherder, too. The dogs had the power to
move almost a hundred sheep where they needed to go, all seemingly without effort. But Liam
did not look like a sheepherder. Unfortunately, he looked like a sheep. His mom said he would
never be a sheepherder and his dad said the same thing. All of Liam’s friends laughed at the
idea.

But Liam refused to give up. He went to the sheep’s owner and barked but the farmer did not
understand and shooed him away. But Liam persisted and returned every day and each time
the farmer said, “Go home!”

Finally, the farmer seemed to understand what Liam had been trying to tell him and he had a
brilliant idea. Because Liam looked like a wooly sheep, what if the little dog joined the farmer’s
herd and helped the other dogs that way? He would lead the sheep to the barn and the
sheepherders would follow behind.

Liam’s dream came true and he was the proudest dog in Ireland!

Time to Say Goodbye

All of us moms and dads of fur babies know that there will inevitably, as Andrea Bocelli so beautifully sings, a time to say goodbye.

Having been in this business almost 12 years, I have shared the heartbreak of owners when I learn that dogs who have visited me for years or even months have crossed the rainbow bridge.

I would like to honor and acknowledge those who have passed away in 2019.

 

Abbey

Abbey was deaf and almost blind, so being in a new place was a struggle for her. Fortunately, she had her big brother Mac who constantly stayed by her side. Mac’s dedication to Abbey’s welfare was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve observed. It saddens me that Abbey only visited twice before she was gone but I am grateful for the short time I knew her.

 

Eddie

Eddie was just a mess of nerves for his first few visits but eventually learned he was in a place where he would get hugs and kisses all day. Eddie loved to be carried around on his back like a baby and perhaps his favorite time of the day was when it was time for lights out and he would climb up the ramp to my bed and curl up next to my pillow. He was one of the rare dogs I was able to say goodbye to before he was to be put to sleep the next day. I thank his mom for that opportunity.

 

Forest

Forest was almost white as snow. Like all Chihuahuas, he loved his lap time. Forest was an elder to the pack and felt no need to join in when the rest of the gang started barking. I thought of Forest as stately but also a bundle of love and he always joined the other Chihuahuas under the covers when it was bedtime. He, along with those others, guaranteed I would never get cold at night.

 

Frank

Dachsunds never fail to entertain me and Frank was no different. He had this adorable wiggle that just cracked me up every time I watched him walk away. Frank was always accompanied by his sidekick Lola and, like every dachshund that has visited, the two would “burrito” up with the blankets. They were not content to just go under, Frank and Lola had to make sure they were wrapped up tight, just like a burrito. 

 

Kia

As one of the dogs who came to visit the longest, I watched Kia grow up. Her family went though some hard times but it never affected Kia when she came to visit. She seemed to be smiling all the time and I don’t think I have any pictures where she wasn’t. Kia stayed more of often with my colleague Lanette as she moved into her senior years and developed health problems. I was grateful my friend was there because with an average of six guests at any one time, I could not have given Kia the care she needed. 

 

Martini

A tiny blonde Chihuahua, Martini stole my heart from her very first visit. I would often joke with her mom when she came to pick her up that Martini was welcome to stay here forever. Her mom knew I meant it and ended up putting me in her will as Martini’s permanent caregiver if anything should happen to her. Her mom sent me a card with a painting of Martini on the cover. The artist captured her eyes perfectly.

The Fabulist Tale of Maddie

 

The fabulist tale of Maddie begins on a sunny beach in Florida. 

Maddie was a beautiful Boykin spaniel who loved nothing more than to go out on the ocean with her human. Day after day, Maddie’s mom would take her kayak into the water and when it was deep enough, the two would jump in. Maddie sat in the very front of the kayak with her bright yellow life jacket on and as her mom rowed, the breeze would ruffle the spaniel’s long brown ears. They would stay out for an hour or so and saw dolphins and otters and sea lions and one time, they even saw a giant whale!

One day as the two were out on the water, a sudden wind came up. Maddie’s mom paddled to shore as quickly as she could but before they could reach it, the kayak tipped over and both were tossed into the water. Her mom clung to the side of their little boat while Maddie swam as fast as she could to the shore and she started to bark as soon as her paws touched the sand. People gathered around because they knew the spaniel came out of the water by herself and they couldn’t see any humans nearby. But one looked out to sea and saw a little speck. He knew it was Maddie’s human so he jumped into his motorboat and before you knew it, she was safe on the boat and heading back to her fur baby.

Once on shore, Maddie’s mom hugged and cried and kissed her precious one while everyone surrounding them clapped and cheered. Because she was so strong and brave and smart they asked Maddie if she would like to be an official lifeguard. Maddie barked, which meant yes, so her mom took off the yellow life jacket and put a bright red one on her that said “lifeguard.” And ever since then, Maddie was known as the hero dog!

 

 

Put Barryland on That Bucket List!

martigny, home of Barryland

Barryland.

All St. Bernard owners, perhaps all dog owners, should put Barryland on that bucket list. Located in the small town Martigny at the base of the Swiss Alps, it’s a museum dedicated to St. Bernard dogs and features history, art, films and of course, an awesome gift shop.

The museum is named in honor of Barry, a St. Bernard who rescued 40 travelers  stranded in the snow and bitter cold.

 

bas-relief of Abyssinian war dog

Travelers trekked 8,000 feet up the Alps to journey from north to south of Europe. That winter temperatures could drop to 35 below zero did not seem to deter them.  The St. Bernard Hospice, a monastery, served as a place to rest before continuing. In this case, “hospice” meant that all were welcome, whether royalty or beggars.

Each night the monks would venture out with dogs particularly adapted to the climate in search of stragglers and the lost who attempted to cross the pass in winter. St. Bernards can pick up scents through 20 inches of snow and directed searchers who brought bottles of brandy to revive the near-dead. By the way, no St. Bernard ever wore a keg around its neck. That was a fanciful addition to some artist’s painting and the breed has been stuck with it ever since.

The St. Bernard symbolizes Switzerland and their likeness is found everywhere from fine art,  on cookie tins, candy bars and other products to remind tourists where they came from.  

 

what St. Bernards originally looked like before intensive breeding

It’s thought that the breed descended from  the Abyssinian war dog and photos from the 1800s show what St. Bernards looked like before breeders deformed them to fit some arbitrary standard. Like all purebreds, they are the product of inbreeding which has resulted  in a host of health problems; hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat (The stomach twists on itself and 30% to 60% cases result in death), eye problems and bone cancer to name a few and now have lifespan of only eight to ten years. 

 

St. Bernards grace dozens of Swiss products

The Barryland gift shop was my favorite attraction and it’s where I got my St. Bernard t-shirt, St. Bernard socks and a couple of cowbells (not St. Bernard related but I wanted them anyways). Here’s hoping you get a chance to visit this awesome place.

The Fabulist Tale of Benny and Eleanor

The fabulist tale of Benny and Eleanor begins in New Orleans,

where they pranced and danced in Mardi Gras’ biggest parade. They saw each other as one of the floats passed by and knew they were destined to become best friends. An odd pair, those two; tiny Benny with long golden ears and stately Eleanor, her grey fur that shone like polished metal.

Life was good in the Big Easy. They feasted on discarded étouffees, Po’boys and beignets and the Mississippi river nearby provided their water. But Benny and Eleanor knew they lived on borrowed time. If the dog catcher swept them up, that would be the end. One day the two friends overheard a child ask her mother if they could go to the circus. Benny and Eleanor looked at each other and set out on their search. Eleanor spotted the giant red and white striped tent first and trotted towards it as Benny fell in behind.

They found the ringmaster, who instantly saw their appeal. The man was kind and patient and taught them a multitude of tricks. They were smart, fast learners and, as the Big Top’s main attraction, knew they would soon be famous. The big day finally arrived and the tent was packed. Benny emerged first, sitting up on his hind legs on the back of a beautiful white pony that galloped around and around the ring. He jumped off when Eleanor ran out and they performed a most beautiful tango. The crowd screamed and clapped as the two showed off more tricks and each one brought more cheers. As Benny and Eleanor predicted, they were now stars.

The circus traveled across the country and the Crescent City Duo, as they were called, were always greeted enthusiastically. One day the two spotted a couple in the audience and they felt something special. Benny and Eleanor waited outside after the show was over and followed the man and woman to their car, who both turned around and smiled. Benny and Eleanor knew their traveling days were over. It was time to go home.

The Fabulist Tale of Lucy

The fabulist tale of Lucy begins in Hollywood, the most glamorous city in all the world.

She spent her days and nights in a big lot where television and movies were made. The famous movie stars all knew Lucy and made sure there were bowls of food and water left out for her. Lucy slept in a room that no one used where a soft bed waited for her when it was time to go to sleep.

Lucy often watched the actors as they performed on different stages. Sometimes the men would dress up as cowboys and ride past on horses, or dress as knights in shining armor and pretend to fight each other with swords. Women in beautiful gowns walked by and even children showed up to play their parts. They petted Lucy and rubbed her belly, which she loved most of all.

Lucy’s favorite show was about a Cuban bandleader who was married to a very funny redheaded lady. At least Lucy thought she must have been funny because the audience laughed at almost everything she said. The handsome man often said, “Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!” But the line Lucy waited for every day was when he walked through the door, put his hat on a hook and said loudly, “Lucy, I’m home!” The redheaded lady would come out of the kitchen or wherever she was and give him a big hug.

One day, the husband came home and said again, “Lucy, I’m home!” The little dog could not contain herself anymore. When she heard her name, she ran onto the set and jumped in his arms.

He was surprised, but then started laughing. The audience laughed, too. His wife came out, looked at the two and said, “I think our house needs two Lucys.”

She went home with them and became famous herself for now, too, she was on television! 

The Fabulist Tale of Mac and Abbey

 

The Fabulist Tale of Mac and Abbey begins almost one thousand years ago in the village of Assisi.

Along with the birds and rabbits and deer and honey bees, Mac and Abbey gathered every morning around a man they knew as Francis. Everyone in the forest loved him because Francis so dearly loved them back. This man lived simply in what remained of a ruined church and was often found writing in his journal.

One day Francis turned to them and began to speak. The birds and rabbits and deer and honey bees listened, but Mac and Abbey knew the man who was surrounded by beautiful golden light was talking just to them.

He told Mac and Abbey that dogs were created to bring joy and light and hope when their people were sad. They must forgive, no matter how much their humans may fail them. And most important, they were to love their humans with all their heart.

Mac and Abbey left Assisi and set out to teach these lessons to other dogs. They made sure their puppies understood that they were to comfort their humans when they were sad, assure them that everything would be okay and, most importantly, to let them know every day, every moment, how much they were loved. Those puppies passed the knowledge on to their puppies and their puppies passed it on to their puppies and so it went. A thousand years later, every dog in the world lived like Francis. Humans tried to, but they could not do it perfectly like dogs.

Mac and Abbey grew old and tired, just like the birds and deer and rabbits and honey bees and yes, even Francis. It was time for Abbey to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Heartbroken, Mac soon followed and the two were once again reunited. They discovered there was indeed a doggy heaven, which turned out to be the home of a mom, dad and two children that loved Mac and Abbey just as much Francis had once loved them. The best friends continued to teach the importance of love to all the dogs they met until the end of their days.