Monthly Archives: February 2015
Today I’m featuring a guest canine on my blog. She’s best known in the literary world as Chloe the Book Critic, and let me tell you: she’s the toughest critic I’ve ever met. She likes to try as many types of literature as possible, but writers beware: she eats what she doesn’t like.
And I haven’t met a book she likes yet!
She started out her early months as a critic of newspapers. It looks like perhaps she’s a fan of shopping because she left a few of the store circulars intact:
Here we see her brother Buster, who is not a book critic, wondering how she could be so critical, even of the sports and weather section:
It’s even been rumored that she devoured (quite literally, I’m sorry to say) a copy of Corgi Capers. In her most recent endeavors, she decided to critique a book her person had borrowed from a friend. Chloe only made it a few pages in before deciding the book was worthy of her harshest criticism:
But who could stay mad at that face?
Chloe is a rescue; she used to be a racing greyhound, but at only three years old, she broke her toe, making her eligible for rescue status. She has a sweet personality and is even friends with the corgis. Since her rescue, she has healed, gained weight, learned how to play, and adjusted to life with her beloved brother Buster. She is well-loved by her human.
If you have written a book that you’d like reviewed or critiqued… don’t send it to Chloe!
I sometimes feature guest dogs on this dog blog. If you’re interested in featuring your pup, let’s chat: send me an email!
If you follow my other blog, you know that I feature flash fiction every Thursday as part of a writing group I’m in (The Spot Writers). This week, I was inspired by the extreme cold–and my task of keeping the pipes from freezing. We were supposed to write a story about a character’s reaction to an intruder. I added a bit of a spin, making the intruder the cold. The story features Courtney and follows her continuing journey to be a better person.
by Val Muller
“Don’t forget to leave the sink dripping,” Mom said.
Dad smiled. “Wouldn’t want the pipes to burst.”
“And if anything happens, call Belle or Cassie. They know we’ll be gone for the night, and we’ve asked them to look in on you.”
“I’m in seventh grade already. I can take care of myself.”
“Seventh grade isn’t that old, young lady. Remember, no going out. Let the dogs out once or twice, but that’s it. And no visitors.”
Mom jingled her keys. “And Dad will be back around noon.”
“Got it.” Mom reached over for a hug. Moms always did stuff like that. “Have fun at your conference,” Courtney added.
Finally, finally, they left. Courtney watched them from the front window. She couldn’t wait. She had the entire night planned—a movie marathon coupled with a chat session with her friends. And she could text Dave all night, too. She was finally being treated like an adult.
But that was all. She was turning over a new leaf. Her parents finally trusted her, finally un-grounded her. So no sneaking out, no inviting anyone over. Just watching movies with the volume as loud as she wanted, eating whatever she wanted, and having the peace and quiet of being away from her brother.
It would be…like being a grown-up. It was going to be awesome.
And then, when Dad returned in the morning and saw the house was still standing the dogs were fed and happy, her parents would trust her even more. Never too early to start thinking about driving—only a few years away!
The kitchen sink was set to drip—last year the pipes had frozen along the outside wall. They hadn’t burst, luckily, but there were so many stories in the news with this recent cold snap. It was breaking records and pipes–and it was the reason they were letting Courtney stay by herself. She was supposed to keep the taps dripping and the thermostat turned up. And, in case anything happened, she knew where the main water shut-off was, and she had her parents’ cell phone numbers memorized. Mom’s presentation wasn’t until the morning, so she could call them whenever she wanted. After that, Dad would answer.
Not that she would need to call either of them. She was in seventh grade now.
She settled into the recliner—Dad’s recliner. She set up Mom’s laptop on the end table, plugged in her phone charger, opened a bag of popcorn, and pulled a blanket up to her chin. Breaking small rules didn’t matter. Dad would never know she was eating in his chair, and Mom wouldn’t miss her laptop tonight. She smirked and broke one final rule. “Come on, Sapphie,” she said to her dog. “You can sit up here with me.”
Sapphie took a running leap without even thinking, burrowing into the forbidden comfort of the recliner. Adam’s dog yelped and hid under the couch. “Poor Zeph,” Courtney said. “Too bad Adam couldn’t have taken you to his sleepover.”
Courtney shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth and pushed “play” on the DVR. Sapphie wagged her tail, vacuuming up the popcorn as it spilled on Courtney’s shirt.
The first movie started playing just as a text from Dave came in. Courtney signed onto Facebook and posted on her friends’ walls. She didn’t have to worry for once about a parent peeking over her shoulder. She could talk about whatever she wanted, using whatever language she wanted to, and she didn’t even have to use commas! She giggled; she could even fart right there in her father’s recliner and no one to reprimand her.
It was everything she expected, everything she hoped. Living like a grown-up was awesome.
Halfway through the bag of popcorn and the movie, the microwave oven beeped. The lights went out.
Sapphie and Zeph barked in alarm, sensing her tension. She picked up her cell phone. The pale moon outside did little to light the way.
“It’s okay, dogs,” she whispered. She hoped.
“Power out,” she texted to Dave.
“Yeah, me too,” he responded. “Sux. Guess I’ll go hibernate until it comes back on. Gonna get cold with no heat.”
And he was gone, just like that.
And then Courtney shivered. Cold with no heat. With no heat, how would she keep the pipes from freezing? In the kitchen above, she heard the refrigerator turn on. Why weren’t the rest of the lights coming on, too?
Then she remembered: Dad had wired their generator to come on automatically to run the refrigerator. She thought about calling Mom and Dad. They hadn’t been gone that long. Maybe they would come back. Besides, this was Mom’s conference. They had already talked about Mom going by herself and Dad staying behind. Maybe he could come back now.
She looked at her list of contacts, ready to push the button for Dad’s phone, but she shook her head. Sure, she was only in seventh grade, but that was pretty old. She could handle this on her own.
Outside, the wind howled. She must not have heard it over the movie’s volume, but it was raging. It pressed against the windows, making them creak. It lashed against the shutters and whipped through the trees. She remembered being a little kid, all wrapped in a comforter in bed and hearing these same noises. How comforting it had been all those years ago, wrapped up tight with Mom and Dad downstairs to protect her.
Now she was on her own. No one to protect her—and assigned to look after the dogs and the house. And all those chips on her shoulder.
She ran up to the kitchen. The faucet was still dripping. That’s right—water and phone lines were on a different system than electricity. She remembered Mom saying something about that. She pulled the faucet, making the stream of water more steady. Less chance of freezing that way.
But what about the plunging temperatures? A quick trip outside with the dogs proved that the wind was bringing with it a cold front, an arctic blast whose icy grip reached into the ground and into pipes and water lines and skin.
Courtney shuddered and hurried back inside. She touched the exterior kitchen wall. It felt cold. This was no good. She picked up her phone again, ready to call Dad.
But no. She could handle this on her own. If the refrigerator ran off the generator, then certainly a space heater could as well. Some of the sockets in the kitchen still had to be electrified. It was only a matter of finding which ones…
* * *
The next morning, she awoke to the sounds of dogs barking. They scampered happily down the stairs as Courtney sat up. Her sleeping bag pooled around her, and she looked up at the kitchen sink. It was still dripping. The space heater was still spinning, directed at the cabinet under the sink. She’d stayed up most of the night, checking the pipes and making sure the space heater wasn’t about to catch on fire. It was the most exhausting night she’d ever spent. She must have dozed off right around sunrise.
The clock on the microwave blinked, letting her know the power was back on. She looked up in time to see Dad coming into the kitchen.
“What happened?” he asked. “Did you sleep in the kitchen?”
Courtney rubbed her head and shrugged. “Power was out,” she said. “Had to keep the pipes from freezing.”
Dad helped her up, and she trudged upstairs to shower.
“I’m proud of you,” Dad called up the stairs, “working so hard to protect the house.”
“Yeah,” Courtney whispered to herself. “Be proud all you want. Being a grown-up stinks!”
Today, we suffered the indignity of a visit to the vet. Hmph! Canine friends, have you ever been to such a place?
It starts out with your person saying “We’re going for a ride in the car!” But don’t be fooled. You’ll be driving along, wondering where the heck you get to go, and all of a sudden–bam! The scent of it’ll hit you like fresh shampoo from a bath. The vet! There is nothing quite like the smell of the vet. There’s the exciting smell of other animals, the intriguing smell of all the people who live in the vet building, and the yucky smell of mediciny-things.
And that’s just what we smelled today. Our person told us we were so wild we’d “sleep good tonight.” We sleep good every night, so we don’t know what she was talking about. She tried to get a picture of us “being excited.” Here’s how it came out:
See, what happens is: when we get to the vet, our person doesn’t let us in right away. She makes weird hand gestures through the glass window at the people sitting behind a counter. Then she brings us in real quick-like. Other dogs get to go on the scale there near the counter, but we’re too special for that. What happens when we get to the vet is, they say “Oh, it’s Leia and Yoda. We’ll get you to your own room real quick.” Then they come around and open up our own very special room so we don’t have to wait in the waiting room with all the other dogs.
It’s nice to be special.
We don’t know why our person turns bright red and tells us we’re too loud and barky. She should be thanking us for letting her have the royal treatment. But instead, she always says confusing things like, “I wish you two would just behave” or “Quiet, Yoda.”
Anyway, what happens next is, we have to listen real careful-like. Here is a picture of us listening:
What are we listening for? First of all, the person behind the desk keeps saying “hello” into that hand-held ringy thing. We can hear it even through the closed door of our own private room. Whenever we hear the word “hello,” it means someone has come into the room to greet us, so as soon as we hear it, we bark. Our person makes no sense. She usually responds by saying weird words like “Quiet” or “That’s just on TV. No one’s here.” What the heck does that even mean?
We heard the person behind the counter say “hello” quite a few times, and we were sure to bark each and every time–like good corgis should.
Then someone said “hello” right in our room. It was a person with a leash, and we knew she was coming to take us away. She always does. She always asks for Leia first, and Leia was on it! She ran between the two chairs in the room. It is the only place to hide in that room:
What happens next is beyond the realm of dignity, so we aren’t going to write about it. But talk about being poked and prodded! Leia always makes sure she squeals bloody murder and kicks and squirms as much as possible. Just because we have to suffer indignities doesn’t mean we have to go down without a fight!
While this is happening, I–Yoda–get quite upset. It’s important that I listen to make sure my sister is squealing loud enough. It doesn’t matter that she probably woke up people in the next zipcode. I’ve got to listen. I even stop barking when the person out in the waiting room says “hello.” Here’s what it looks like to listen for your sister squealing:
When my sister finally comes back, I know it’s my turn. How do I know? I have to sniff her real good. She smells like someone’s perfume and like mediciny-things. She’s extra squirmy when she gets back. I know I’m supposed to be a good dog and go with the person holding the leash, but I want to make my objections known. So I look at my person and ask with my sad eyes, “Really???” Maybe if I look at her hard enough, she won’t make me go.
In the meantime, my sister has been freaking out in the waiting room. While I’m being taken for blood work, she tries to tug at the leashes to drag our person home:
Of course, I know my person would never leave without me, no matter how demanding Leia is.
Once the vet has looked us over, we are ready to go. We’re still upset because the vet said, “Leia acts pretty typical for a corgi, based on what I’ve seen.” What does that mean? He should know better than to test the dignity of a corgi! Hmph!
But I digress.
Once our person lets us leave, we know our time at the vet is coming to an end, so we must be as loud as possible. If we should happen to see a ferret being dropped off for dental work, we should bark and howl at it. If we see a person dropping off a cat for daycare, we should growl.
And we do. How we do!
Why, oh why, does our person always take us to the car and then go back into the building, telling us she “has to pay” before we can go home?
Oh, she’ll pay alright. She’ll pay for making us go to the vet. We have it all worked out. After returning home, we have a plan:
1. Drink the entire bowl of water.
2. Spit up part of said bowl of water.
3. Drink up the part we spit up.
4. Act pathetic and clingy. Receive treat.
5. Take a nap. For about twelve seconds.
6. Run to door. Cry. Get let out.
7. Stand outside and do nothing. Refuse to come when called.
8. Come running when our person utters, “Treat!”
9. Take a nap.
10. Act pathetic and clingy again. Get petting and cuddles. Get treats from all members of the household.
11. Take another nap. Make it impossible for our person to be productive (ex: lick laptop, push laptop off of person’s lap, bark at random noises)
That usually works pretty well, and our person doesn’t dare take us to the vet for about a whole year or so. You should totally try it.
Wishing you a vet-free day!
-Leia and Yoda Corgi
Confessions of a Cowardly Corgi
By Yoda Corgi
I like to sit within my crate,
But only when I’m told to.
My sister goes in hers whenever—
But I’m not bold enough to.
If I want to nap inside my crate,
I’ll simply sit beside it
Until my person says “go in”
And gives a treat to eat inside it.
There are several things I like a lot—
And many, not at all.
If I wasn’t a Pembroke with a stub,
I’d even be afraid of my tail.
I’m afraid when my person kickboxes,
Even at 20 feet away!
And my sister loves stuffed toys a lot,
But they’re much too scary for play.
I’m terribly scared of sudden noises,
Like if someone coughs or sneezes.
And the hair on my butt stands on end
At the scents carried by soft breezes.
There’s a world out there that’s so unknown
Filled with frightening mysteries.
I prefer my house, my yard,
Familiar places and trees.
Ceramic ducks, aluminum foil,
And being pet too roughly,
Thunderstorms and fire alarms
Frighten me much too muchly!
But I’ll curl on your blanket
While you pet me to sleep
As my storing masks scary noises
That echo and creep—
Though I’ll warn you of intruders
With valiant, fearful bark—
Then I’ll love you forever
With all of my heart.
The loving and frightened Yoda Corgi is an inspiration for the main character, Raven, in Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi, now available at Amazon.com. The story is written in verse and is appropriate to be read aloud to younger children.
Leia: A Corgi
A princess in every sense:
I demand service in its appropriate time—
A time for petting,
A time for going outside,
For bathing (yes, I demand even that),
And if the appropriate service is not provided
At the appropriate time,
I bark sharply
Until you obey.
(And you will obey.)
I cry at the fast food window
Until the smell of goodies fills the car.
I growl at my brother,
Or the cavachon,
Or the poodle,
Or the squirrel or bird or mouse,
Or even the boxer that outweighs me by four.
I do bad things
And then make my face look so sad,
My stance so cuddly,
That no one can stay mad at me,
Not even for a second.
Through this behavior,
I make people smile.
And that is worth
Every pesky little quirk.
Leia the Corgi is the inspiration behind the character “Sapphie” in the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.
Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls has recently been released. Check it out to read up on the corgis’ latest adventures. You can also find a discount on the three-book set directly from the publisher!