Random things I say to my dogs

In any given week, you might hear one or all of these things uttered at my house, either to or about the furchildren.

“Poop!” (After finding a deposit on the carpet, five minutes after they’ve been outside to potty. This is our most frequent exclamation.)

“Who peed in the office?”

“Time to rassle!”

“Pepper, move over.” (In the middle of the night.)

“Salsa, calm down!!”

“Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty, and I’ll give you a treat. … Pepper, please go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Please potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. Hurry up. It’s cold [or hot] out here. Go potty. Go potty. Go potty. … Good potty!”

“Don’t lick me on the mouth!”

“But we like the mailman!”

“Who turned over the trash can?”


“Who peed on the bathroom rug?”

“Don’t snatch! Be gentle.” (To Pepper, who likes to snatch her treats out of your hand.)

“That’s not very ladylike.” (To Salsa, when she flops onto her back to ask for a belly rub.)

“Dry your feet.” (Salsa’s signal to stop and wait for me when she comes in from the rain. They do have a little training.)

“Don’t bite me.” (To Salsa, who always bites my right index finger after I dry her feet.)

“Who peed in the laundry room?”

“Salsa, down!” (When someone arrives.)

“Who peed in the guest bedroom?”

“Salsa, chillax!”

“Pepper, you’re tiny.”

“Salsa, you’re pretty.”

(Whispering to Bruce) “Where’s the camera?”

“Salsa, you’re going to put my eye out with your tail.”

“Don’t bite me! I’m gonna bite you!” (During a rasslin’ match.)

“You have bad breath.”

“Don’t lick the window!”

“You stink!”

“Who needs a bath?”

“Anybody hungry?” (Just to see their joy as they race to the kitchen.)

(To both) “I love you.”

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A fragrance or a stench?

Bruce had warned me that Salsa would need a bath when I got home from work tonight. The recent rains have made her path in our back yard muddy, and she romps through it with joyful abandon.

Today she smelled like she had rolled around in a cow pasture, he said.

The second I walked in the door, I thought of a different word for it: stench.

She stank like a person who hadn’t bathed in several days, had sweated and the sweat had dried, and then had sweated some more, developing what my colorful friend Helaine would call “a funk.”

Salsa always bites me when I try to pick her up for a bath. Then she bites me while I’m bathing her. Bites me, her “Mama,” the one who has nurtured her, fed her and given her refuge since the day I brought her home from the shelter. But I still love her.

Later this evening, as I was writing tomorrow’s post for my church’s daily Shaped by Scripture blog, my mind went back to Salsa and bath time. And me and my attitude toward my Creator.

I’ve been treating Him as though He doesn’t know what’s best for me. Him, the Creator of the universe, the One who has nurtured me, fed me (physically, spiritually, emotionally and in all other ways) and given me refuge since the day he pulled me out of the mud pit of my sin, where I have chosen to return and have been wallowing lately.

Acting like I deserve better than where he is allowing me to be right now. Biting His hand every time He reaches down to cleanse me. But He still loves me.

Just as it was time for Salsa to come in out of the mud and have a bath, it’s time for me to stop wallowing in self-pity and let Him cleanse me.

I want to be a fragrance, not a stench.

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A book for Suzy

Dog for Susie cover

Sometimes you love something just because you love it, and trying to explain why just diminishes it.

Those of you who read my blog know my name, you know I love dogs (especially pound puppies) and you know I love to read. A book called A Dog for Susie is just perfect for me. Do I really need to explain why?

I won’t explain why I still love this book nearly four decades after receiving it, but I will show you.

Dog for Susie “he needs me”

I really thought this book was long gone. In the great purge of my dad’s stuff just before Mom downsized to a smaller house a few years ago, we got rid of a TON of his things — along with a lot of my books, board games and other childhood paraphernalia.

You see, Dad was a packrat, I am a reformed packrat, and Mom and big brother J.T. are tossers. Therefore, lots of stuff plus the need to downsize, combined with two tossers, a reformed packrat and a river of emotion equals stuff getting thrown out or sold that the reformed packrat will later regret having let go.

And for the past few years I had assumed A Dog for Susie had fallen victim to the great purge.

Fast forward to 2008. Bruce and I are trying to downsize, too. Since he was disabled last year and lost gainful employment (you can’t really count his writing computer programs for me as gainful — I pay him in raspberry sherbet and cups of green tea), we have decided to sell our house. And, friends, we have a LOT of books. Even after filling a “to donate” box, we still won’t have room for all of them in a smaller house. Because we have three rooms with built-in bookcases (in the market for a house? we’ll show you!) and the donation box contains a pitifully small number of donations.

So the other day I was lamenting that I wished we hadn’t tossed A Dog for Susie and how could I have let that book go anyway and how could anyone love it as much as I did, and Bruce — who has nearly recovered from his medical complications and has been busy as a bee, packing our books — said, “No, that book is downstairs on the shelf.” I was skeptical. Thought he must think I was talking about a different book. But he took me straight to the shelf. And there it was: a book for Suzy.

If I didn’t kiss him — on the lips — I should have.

Sometimes a book is meaningful only to the one it belongs to. And sometimes a book is meaningful to that someone’s husband just because he loves books, too, and knows that sometimes you can’t explain why a worn-out children’s book means so much to a 45-year-old woman who edits newspapers for a living.

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~ Anna Quindlen

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How now brown blog

I told you I would have trouble with brown. I struggled to find pictures I had already taken. I didn’t want to go around my house looking for something to take pictures of (I thought of photographing something I deal with daily — dog poo on the carpet — but Bruce didn’t think that was such a good idea), so the file photos I scrounged up will have to do.

I made this pumpkin cheesecake on Thanksgiving Day for a family from church when I was making money baking for people. The pecan praline topping was a little runnier than I would have liked but so good I wanted to drink it all up!

Click to see the apple pie I referred to in Crust-ophobic no more.

And saving the best for last: Below is Pepper in her sunny spot in the office. She appears mostly “black,” but if you look at her closely in the sunshine (in real life, not in this photo), you realize she’s really just very dark brown. And then there’s the obvious brown, which is the reason I chose her for Brown day.

pepper on Brown day

Want to know why I post more pics of Pepper than Salsa? Salsa is in perpetual motion. I told Bruce she is self-winding. In most of the pictures I try to take of her, she’s just a big blur. I still want Whitney to take family pictures of all of us for Christmas cards; we’re going to need someone professional to take the pictures while we try to corral the furbabies.

Whitney and I tried year before last to schedule a photo shoot but could never work it out. And last year Bruce was sick, and we didn’t really want to take Christmas card pics of him in his bathrobe on the couch. However, he used just such a picture for his blog.

Tomorrow is pick your own color. I’m going to surprise you.

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Blue day, blue dog

Again, I let it get close to bedtime before remembering the Week of Color. (To be fair, I haven’t been home from work that long.)

Today’s color is blue.

After Salsa and Pepper frolicked on the bed for a while, Pepper suddenly scurried under her bed, where she usually sleeps (yes, in the winter, she sleeps under her bed). The bed is blue (you’ll have to take my word for it), and our cheap, dog-proof, ugly comforter has lots of blue in it, so I grabbed the camera. Weird dog to the rescue again!


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A dog who doesn't want a bath


Salsa hates baths. She doesn’t understand the word “bath,” because we’re careful how we phrase things around the furbabies, but I made the mistake of swishing my hand through the 2 inches of dog-shampoo water I run in the sink before I put them in. When I went to get Salsa, she must have smelled it. She tried to hide under Bruce’s desk.

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Suzo Science (not to be confused with pseudoscience)

Many of you, if you’ve ever read a newsmagazine or watched TV — or perhaps read through the letter P in the dictionary — are familiar with the term pseudoscience. It’s stuff real scientists consider wacko, or at least unfounded.

But let me introduce you to Suzo Science — a science that is not at all wacko (at least in the mind of its founder).

The principles of Suzo Science lack endorsement in the mainstream scientific community, but let’s not let that stop us from benefiting from its sagacity.

Examples of Suzo Science:

The Grocery Lane Blues. The mainstream scientific community might discuss this phenomenon with references to the Laws of Probability or some such blather. But Suzo Scientists know that it is related more to karma than to mathematical theory. When a Suzo Scientist chooses which lane to stand in at the grocery store, much deliberation can take place in the space of a few seconds. Typically she chooses incorrectly. You might think she should choose the lane with the fewest people. For others, this might be the right choice; for a Suzo Scientist, it depends on how her attitude has been in the previous 24 hours. If she has been impatient with her co-workers, overindulgent at the dinner table and judgmental of someone different from her that day, it doesn’t matter what lane she chooses or how many (or few) people are in line ahead of her – that lane will always take the longest. Karmic payback.

The Dog Poop Game. If a Suzo Scientist had a small dog who relieved herself whenever and wherever she pleased, dog experts would say the dog needed further training. But a Suzo Scientist would know that the Law of Cute but Stubborn Little Dogs was at play here. The dog may have had extensive training – by three sets of parents – and was just too stubborn to do her business in the proper place. In this situation, the Suzo Scientist always chooses incorrectly. For instance, when the small dog fidgets, barks or otherwise seems to be giving “the potty signal,” the Suzo Scientist might haul herself out of bed (even if it is 4 a.m. and the temperature is 30 and it’s raining) on the off chance that the small dog is telling the truth. After all, if she didn’t let the dog out, the dog would think its signals – barking, dancing in circles and pawing at the sleeping Suzo Scientist – are worthless and stop giving said signals. Even if the signals usually mean, “Feed me, servant – I don’t care when my real mealtime is.”

Which Bluejeans to Wear Today. Before the Suzo Scientist starts a new job, her supervisor may tell her that the publisher says bluejeans are OK as long as they are “nice jeans.” So she may go out and purchase a pair of “nice jeans” because her favorite jeans – the ones she wore every single day (even to church) when she was a freelancer working from home – are a bit faded. And she really prefers jeans to dress slacks when she can get away with it. But then she starts her job and begins noticing that her co-workers’ bluejeans aren’t all that “nice.” But she’s new and wants to keep observing the situation for a while. So finally she wears the faded jeans, thinking something along the lines of, “The publisher works out of a different office in a different city, and I’ve never seen him in our office.” So she wears the comfortable, favorite, faded jeans. And guess who shows up that day. (Similar to the Law of Wash Your Car and it Will Rain.)

These are just a few examples of Suzo Science. More will be published when the Laws of Gotta Finish the Electronic Newsletter That’s Already a Day Late aren’t at play.

Stay tuned.

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It's a dog's life

When I created this blog in October, my dogs were part of the inspiration for the title — along with the spice cookies I was baking that night.

Salsa, who came along first, is our bigger dog (14 pounds). Pepper, who came a few months later and was already named (we were her third human family) is our itty bitty teeny tiny dog (4 to 5 pounds, depending on how many times she has suckered me for treats that month). Their names went so well together, and Salsa is so hyper (she’s a terrier — Manchester, we think), The Spice Dogs just seemed to fit.

I have a post-in-progress called “To all the dogs I’ve loved before,” but it will be a two-parter and for posting when I have time to give each dog its due, and to scan and upload the pictures. I started out talking about dogs my family had when I was a baby (or when my mom was pregnant — I’m not sure which) and am working my way up to our Spice Dogs.

Which makes this post kind of stupid. I’m writing about what I’m going to post “someday when I have time.”

But I haven’t posted in a week, and our dogs are hilarious (to us at least), so I just had to mention them today. After all, they are most of the reason this blog is named Suzy & Spice. They do add spice to our lives (more than we want sometimes).

So, to whet your appetite, here is a picture of Pepper (or, more accurately, Pepper’s butt), who has taken to sleeping under her bed instead of in it — apparently she’s warmer there. She is a burrower, and since Bruce has been sick we’ve been trying to get her not to burrow under our covers so much. So we keep her bed on top of our bed.


BTW, she’s a min Pin, and that little stubby thing is her tail (you can barely see it). Her pencil-thin legs are to the right.

She’s weird, but she’s ours.

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