• A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. ~ Josh Billings
  • I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~ Gilda Radner

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers

pastoral scene at Stebbins-- path and bridge

I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to you readers who left sympathetic thoughts and prayers. I’ve been in a bit of a funk since my buddy Maytag was killed. But time marches on, and some say it heals all wounds. I’m not so sure about that, but I am feeling the urge to write some more posts. I’ll have a really great one for you this weekend, because a REALLY BIG EVENT is happening in our family tomorrow.

Be sure to check back and read all about it!

Happy Birthday Savannah!

Its hard for me to believe, but 19 years ago today she was born. Where does the time go?

This photo was taken in 2008 on vacation in New Orleans. Savannah is a true animal lover, so no matter where we go, she always finds some critter to love on. (That’s an elephant’s backside, in case you don’t recognize it.)

Happy Birthday!!!

Farewell Maytag, beloved friend

Sad news. Maytag gave up his ninth life yesterday on the highway behind our house. We missed him when he did not come home, and today when I got home from work our neighbor told me she had seen him beside the highway. I retrieved his body from the roadside and we buried him by the pink azalea bushes under the oak tree. Donna put a marker and a rose on his grave. I put a rock. I don’t really know why; it just seemed the thing to do. We stood there a while, and quietly shed a few tears. It was a tender, sad, emotional moment for us.

Ever since that November night in 2008 when I fished him from the washing machine and dried him out, Maytag and I had a special bond. He was like the son (or maybe grandson) that I never had. He was all boy, constantly getting into predicaments and situations and always bringing a smile to my face.  If he was outside when I came home from work, he would hear my squeaky car and come running from wherever he was in the neighborhood to greet me.

He was a great hunter, and he loved to bring his trophies to our doorstep for us to admire.  Always true to his predator nature, he consumed his catches so they never went to waste.  We had a few mice in the house this winter, and of course Maytag proudly did his duty and caught most of them.

Maytag on patrol

Maytag had a regular route through the neighborhood. He would crisscross our quiet street, visiting each house in turn. All the neighbors knew and liked him. He let little two-year-old Cody across the street pet him, and he would catch moles in Mrs. Brooks garden, to her delight. He would work his way down the street to the creek at the bottom of the hill. And although he did not actually swim, he wasn’t shy about poking around the bank like a raccoon, looking for a frog or a snake to bring home and eat.

The most amazing thing Maytag did was accompany us when we walked the dogs. He would hurry up ahead, until he got just far enough. Then he would plop down in our path, roll over on his back, stretch, and wait. Just before we caught up to him he was up and away again. Whenever we passed by the Burch’s house, Maytag made a show of walking along the split-rail fence as if to say “bet you can’t do this!”

Another talent Maytag had was his ability to sleep in the most ridiculous and seemingly uncomfortable positions. He loved to find a sunny spot in the yard, but he especially loved to sleep on Donna’s heating pad when he was inside.

I was a little surprised at how much Maytag’s death affected me. After all, his siblings all went on before him, and I handled each of their passings pretty well. But Maytag was different. Although he was a just a little cat, he had a big heart and a big spirit. He brought us so much joy and laughter.


Maytag, buddy, we love you and we will miss you very much.

Watch your back!

Jake and Maggie warned me not to trust those felines!

Click the image above to see a hilarious thoughtful downright scary analysis of sinister feline behavior.

Credit: Matthew Inman.

Mitzie and Milo

It was a beautiful June afternoon three years ago, and Donna and Lauren were walking Jingles around the neighborhood.  Upon arriving home they discovered two kittens had followed them.  The little guys appeared to be about three months old, and we decided they must be litter mates.  Of course Donna gave them some (dog) food and water, and they stayed on our carport for the night.  The next day we asked around the neighborhood trying to find to whom the kittens belonged.   Alas, we did not find the owners.

Naturally the family talk turned to the subject of keeping the kittens.  I reluctantly agreed on the condition they would learn to “do their business” outside.  I was adamant we would have no litter box in the house.  Savannah and I are moderately allergic to cats so there was no way we could have them indoor all the time.  Besides, because they had followed Donna and Lauren home that day, we took that as a sign they were meant to live with us.

So we adopted them.  We took them to our vet for vaccinations and a checkup.  We were concerned about Jingles attacking them, but with care and patience we were able to introduce them to each other without any serious consequences.


In early 2008 we scheduled Mitzie for a trip to the vet to be spayed, but it turned out we were too late.  In March she had a litter of six.  We found homes for all but one; and so Marley came to be our third kitty. (I’ll tell Marley’s story in another post.)   Would you believe it, before we could schedule her to be spayed, she was pregnant again!

Mitzie’s second litter was born in August while we were on vacation in New Orleans.  She selected a dark and cramped corner in the crawlspace under the house as her nursery, and it fell to me to crawl under there to retrieve them.  Six again, but one did not survive.  The remaining five we named Callie, Grayson, Mims, Loner, and Mango (who would soon become Maytag – more on them when I tell Maytag’s story).

This time I did not delay! As soon as Mitzie weaned this litter she was spayed.  She has been happily kitten-free ever since.


Milo was a very sweet kitten, but he caught the ramblin’ bug very early on.  He was gone more often than he was home, and when he did come home he was often injured from fighting.   He would stay around for a couple of days, and then take off again.  Then one day he stopped coming home.  We hope he found another home somewhere, and didn’t meet an untimely end.

A MoMo Breakthrough


It’s a miracle!  Tonight MoMo actually came to me and let me scratch behind his ears.  We’ve had him for about six weeks now, and he has been afraid of me the entire time.  Whenever he saw me he would run and hide.   He’s always friendly with Donna and the girls, but with me, forget it.  This was really beginning to hurt my feelings :(.

And then the magic moment came tonight.  MoMo just sauntered over and jumped up on the ottoman right in front of me.  Surprized, I gently reached out and gave him a tickle behind the ears.


Oh wow!  I was so excited that he finally overcame his fear and trepidation.  I rubbed his head and scratched his ears for about ten minutes.  Then he had enough, I guess, and hopped down and went about his business.

Oh, and just so you know, MoMo seems to have gotten over his problem with inappropriate urination.

Hey! What about us?

Hey! We're back here! Hello?

Hey guys, chill!  I will post another entry about y’all really soon.  Right now, though, we’re in the middle of a series of posts about each of the critters that live here. Your turn will come soon enough.

In the meantime, relax and enjoy your evening walks and Saturday swims!

Ok, but don't take too long please!

Daisy Duke

Boy that sunshine sure feels good

Daisy in the sunshine

When Savannah was 13 she decided she wanted a Chihuahua.  I think the fact that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton each had one was a major factor influencing Savannah’s desire for the breed.  I tried to convince her she wanted a West Highland White instead, and she considered it for a while, but when I discovered how pricey the Westies were I quickly stopped pushing that idea.  So it was decided that she could have a Chihuahua for her 14th birthday.

She found a breeder in Ruby, SC with a litter of three.  When we paid them a visit to see the pups, Savannah instantly picked Daisy, because “she is pretty and her sisters are ugly”.  Her full name is Daisy Duke, because Jessica Simpson had a dog with that name and Savannah really liked it.  We simply call her Daisy most of the time, but sometimes we call her by her nickname, DayDay.

When we first brought Daisy home we were very concerned how she and Jingles would get along.  Jingles is very aggressive with other dogs (and also to male humans, by the way).  We introduced them carefully, and slowly allowed them to get used to each other, and in time they became great friends.

Daisy is very well socialized for a Chihuahua.  Savannah took her along almost everywhere she went that first year.  She had a “dog purse” and would sneak Daisy into stores, movies, and even restaurants.

Daisy is also very well traveled.  She has been all over the state of South Carolina, from the beach to the mountains, and from the North Carolina border to the Georgia state line.

Here are some of the highlights of Daisy’s life:

  1. She jumped into a swimming pool and discovered she hates to touch water.
  2. She was nearly carried off by a Red-tailed hawk.
  3. She lived in Taylors, SC when Savannah was a junior in high school there.
  4. She developed gum disease and had most of her front teeth removed.
  5. There is no number 5. (Daisy is not as adventurous as Jingles!)

Next up: the story of Milo and Mitzie

How Jingles came to live with us.

Around Christmastime in 1995 I had the crazy idea that we needed a dog.  I had recently seen Crimson Tide, and was enamored of Gene Hackman’s dog, a Jack Russell Terrier.  So when I happened to see an ad for Jack Russell pups in the local paper, I decided to go take a look at them.   I took the kids along; subconsciously I knew this would ensure we came home with a puppy.  At the time Lauren was seven and Savannah was four.

The breeder had four pups left, three males and a female.  I did not want a female, but the girls overruled me.  That tiny pup rode home on Lauren’s lap.  It was love at first sight for the both of them,  and it continues to this day, almost 15 years later.

We brought the puppy into the house to surprise Mom.  Indeed it was a surprise, but not a pleasant one.  Mom was angry! And she stayed angry for days! But soon enough she came to love that pup and all was forgiven.

After tossing around several ideas for names, the girls decided that because it was Christmastime we would name her Jingle Bells.  Her “official name” on the registration is Smith Girls Jingle Belle, but we just call her Jingles.  Her nickname is JB.  She is the only one of our pets that is registered.

Jingles has lived an eventful life.  I will give you more details in another post, so I will just share some highlights here:

  1. She broke her leg and had to walk in a cast for several weeks.
  2. She had three litters of pups.
  3. She traveled over 1000 miles by car to New Hampshire and spent two weeks at Camp Walt Whitman.
  4. She flew home from camp on Delta Airlines.
  5. She survived a house fire.
  6. She interrupted a soccer game and ran around on the field for five minutes before being captured and subdued.
  7. She was pepper-sprayed by a meter reader.
  8. She fought with a large dog and lost (stiches and a drainage tube).

Jingles has been a loyal and faithful friend and we all love her very much.

Note: this is the first in a series of posts about how we came to adopt our pets.   They will be posted in chronological order. Thanks for reading!

Don’t Jump, Daisy!

The view is fantastic from up here!

Another beautiful day at the park.