Category Archives: character

Launch Week Elements: Cats

Welcome to my launch week celebration! If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’m writing about a new character in my novel: a feline.

I have never been a cat person—mainly because I am allergic. I’ve never met a dog who didn’t like me. Now cats—I’ve met some who insist on curling up on my lap until I sneeze. And to be honest, there’s nothing quite like that contented purring vibrating through my body as they sleep and keep me warm. But I’ve met others who hiss at me and even bite. During one of my house-hunting adventures, a cat darted out from a closet, jumped on the bed, and actually bit my arm. It didn’t draw blood, but it did scare me away from considering that house!

My earliest memory of a cat isn’t actually my own memory. It’s my mother telling me about a cat she had that she taught to play fetch: she had a little rubber ball, and she threw it up the stairs. Her cat would retrieve it and then chase it again. Strangely enough, this feline story actually made me want—you guessed it!—a dog. (A few years later, my begging resulted in a loveable little puppy.)

My next memory of cats—also doesn’t involve an actual cat. My parents had these salt and pepper shakers. They had these lids that lifted up in such a way that they looked somewhat like mouths (at least, they looked like mouths to an imaginative young girl). While waiting for dinner many nights, my sister and I played with the salt and pepper shakers, imagining that the pristine white salt was a cat and the speckled and aromatic pepper was a dog. My sister’s picky personality (which was somewhat cat-like during those early years) implanted itself onto that salt shaker, and I actually found myself slightly resentful of cats (again, without ever knowing one!). This was compounded by my mother explaining to us the truth about cats and dogs. My sister insisted that cats were really nice and sweet, and dogs were rough and mean. My mother told us that cats and dogs are all different. She did scare me by saying that a cat’s tongue is rough whereas a dog’s tongue is soft. I felt a little resentful—that cats could lure us in with their cute looks and then scratch us with their rough sandpaper tongues!

You might guess that my third memory of a cat doesn’t actually have to do with a cat, either. My sister had this beloved Halloween stuffed cat. I’m pretty sure it was named Blackie. She seemed to take it everywhere with her so that its fur looked well-worn by the end. Although I didn’t have any problem with her stuffed toy, and I did quite enjoy Halloween and the mystery surrounding black cats in October, my sister’s love of that cat pushed me to be different, to associate myself more with dogs than cats. If cats were going to be her identity, then dogs were going to be mine, dog-gone-it!

So you see, before I even got to have a real experience with a cat, I was already a dog lover.

When I finally did get to interact with cats—mostly babysitting—I found myself perplexed. Dogs get excited by all manner of words. Cookie, walk, leash, food, water—these words all seem to bring out a smile on a dog. But talking to a cat to me is like talking to an alien. With no eye contact and no reaction, I’m not sure cats even are about what I’m saying, let alone understand a word of it.

It was my own inability to communicate with cats that inspired me to add a feline to Corgi Capers 3. I knew at once that the best character to communicate with the cat would be tiny and wild Sapphie. With her inability to focus, Sapphie has her own communication problems. But we all have talents, and Sapphie’s just haven’t been discovered yet. When Zeph is terrified and perplexed by the strange mewing of the cat, Sapphie jumps right in with the ability to understand and empathize (in her own hilarious way, of course).

Drawn out to larger themes in the novel, I hoped to emphasize that we all have our own talents and—as the cliché goes—it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. I try to take time to understand multiple perspectives and see the world through other eyes just as my characters have done. I challenge you today to look at the world from a different perspective and see what inspiration may come your way.

Corgi Capers Book 3 Giveaway

Sign up to follow this blog via email (sign-up is toward the upper-right), and at the end of the week, I’ll randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Haven’t read the first two? The winner can choose one of the other Corgi Capers books instead.

Contest details:

Winner will be chosen on or shortly after November 17, 2014. The prize will be the winner’s choice of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3. Paperback copy available only to U.S. addresses. International winners will receive choice of ebook version instead. Void where prohibited.

Related Posts

I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest and about the inspiration of one of the winning names. Being inspired to enjoy life is a constant theme in Corgi Capers, as Zeph (inspired by my own fraidy-dog Yoda) is afraid of most things. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within. Curious to learn more? You can view the trailer here. I’m pleased to be working with Yuming Cao to bring this bravery to life through illustration, and this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

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Launch Week Elements: The Heart of a Hero

Yoda and Leia, wearing red for Denby. Yoda's cape is a tribute to the Super-Dog.

With a little inspiration, we can all find a hero’s heart beating within.

Welcome back to my launch week celebration. If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’d like to share my thoughts about being a hero.

In Corgi Capers 3, several characters examine what it takes to be a hero. On the lighter side, little Sapphie escapes to the woods, facing cold and danger to help a friend in need. Likewise, Adam and Zeph venture into uncomfortable territory to follow what is right. Zeph is enlisted to act in a middle school play with Courtney. His character is his complete opposite: a brave, outgoing pup who pushes boundaries every day. Through the story, Zeph keeps the inspiring character in mind, challenging himself to move out of his comfort zone to brighten the world.

Adam, like his dog, has been sheltered his whole life. But hanging out with his best friend Patrick and his new friend Gavin show him different perspectives, and for the first time, Adam considers what he might want to do “when he grows up.” As a volunteer at the local fire company, Adam realizes that ordinary people make sacrifices every day to make the world a better place.

And on a more serious note, Courtney starts to see the world from a broader perspective, growing out of the harmful hijinks she participated in during Halloween.

The common theme is that in some ways, each character has the heart of a hero. Like Adam, I grew up sheltered in many ways. It’s easy, given a comfortable life, to look beyond the struggles of fellow man. I’ve noticed, too, especially with social media and the prevalence of phones, how easy it is to become absorbed in one’s own world. In some ways, I fear we’re all losing the benefits of making good, old-fashioned human connections. Each of the main characters in Corgi Capers 3 grows in one way or another through his or her interactions with others. They all find themselves in new situations—often uncomfortable ones—but through the human connection they forge in these new circumstances, they learn and grow and become inspired.

Misery is contagious, but so is happiness. My characters have learned the benefits of spreading happiness, and it’s something I hope my readers will be inspired to do as well.

I’ve intentionally chosen Veterans’ Day to post about this element of Corgi Capers, and I’d like to thank all Veterans for their service to this country. It doesn’t need to be said that those serving in our armed forces do so with the heart of a hero and push themselves through situations that are more than uncomfortable. I have many veterans in my family, and I’ve seen only a fraction of the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf. They are an inspiration to me. Today only, the first ten veterans of a US armed service to email me will receive an e-copy of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3, or The Scarred Letter or Faulkner’s Apprentice.

Thank you to all veterans today and every day. You have the heart of a hero.

Corgi Capers Book 3 Giveaway

Sign up to follow this blog via email (sign-up is toward the upper-right), and at the end of the week, I’ll randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Haven’t read the first two? The winner can choose one of the other Corgi Capers books instead.

Contest details:

Winner will be chosen on or shortly after November 17, 2014. The prize will be the winner’s choice of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3. Paperback copy available only to U.S. addresses. International winners will receive choice of ebook version instead. Void where prohibited.

Related Posts

I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest and about the inspiration of one of the winning names. Being inspired to enjoy life is a constant theme in Corgi Capers, as Zeph (inspired by my own fraidy-dog Yoda) is afraid of most things. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within. Curious to learn more? You can view the trailer here. I’m pleased to be working with Yuming Cao to bring this bravery to life through illustration, and this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

To Denby

I was touched to learn of the passing of Denby Dog yesterday. He is now running free across the rainbow bridge. (For those not in the know, I have blogged about him before—here.)

I say “touched” instead of “saddened” because although I am terribly sad and thought about Denby throughout the day, I can’t help but think of the joy he brought his family during all the years he lived against the odds, not to mention all the happiness they brought him. I can’t help but think about all the two- and four-legged friends Denby brought together over the years—friends on Facebook who never met in person but who shared joy and comfort in each other’s company, and will continue to do so, all because of a spirited little dog.

Every dog touches the hearts of his owners—his family. But Denby reached beyond his “mommy’s” heart and touched the lives of more people than he could count. And so when I remember Denby, I do not dwell on the sorrow of losing him—but rather, I celebrate the joy of having known him and having been part of the community he inspired. As they say—corgi on!

Though I am a prose writer, I do sometimes write poetry, and Denby inspired me to write something for him. So here goes:

 

To Denby, on Earning Your Wings

 

You earned your wings some time ago, though they could not be seen:

Your spirit soared, with soul aglow, through each computer screen.

 

A Super-Dog, you showed us how to find the “super” within,

To “corgi on” and be “Denby Strong,” your wink an inspiring grin.

 

You taught us all to enjoy each day of peace and joy and love.

And corgi nation’s members, they now feel your spirit above.

 

For years, you crossed impossible bounds, transcending nations and states.

Bringing together a world of hounds and people; you’re one of the greats.

 

You’ve let us fly, with your invisible wings, for many inspiring years;

Now’s your time to soar like angels and kings. There is joy for you, in my tears.

 

For now you sleep on a bed of stars and wink at the moon “goodnight.”

And spend your days in the rainbow world, in happy, frappy flight.

 

We’ll see you again, brave Super-Dog, but until that day,

Be with our pets that have gone before—and enjoy your time to play.

 

-Val Muller

 

During an auction to raise money for Denby earlier this year, I auctioned the opportunity to name a character in the upcoming Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Miss Kat generously won that opportunity, and she chose to name the character Denby, after the inspirational corgi whose stamina and spirit greatly inspired all of corgi nation. In the upcoming book, I created a character that captures Denby’s spirit—spreading joy, enjoying life, and bringing people together. I hope I have done justice to his memory and legacy.

Yoda and Leia, wearing red for Denby. Yoda's cape is a tribute to the Super-Dog.

Yoda and Leia, wearing red for Denby. Yoda’s cape is a tribute to the Super-Dog.

The Power of the Pen

In Corgi Capers, Mrs. Hollinger (the protagonists’ mother) is a freelance copy-editor. Bad grammar is more than her pet peeve. She allows typos and misused punctuation to distract her from the time, from her appointments, from the road–in short, from her life. Luckily for the family, her distractions lead her to fun, serendipitous things like finding two corgi puppies at a tucked-away farm.

Mrs. Hollinger, protector of the English language

A sketch of Mrs. Hollinger, protector of the English language

Like Mrs. Hollinger, and like my own mother, I love grammar. Maybe I don’t love it, but I feel the need to protect it. Just the other day, I had to stop myself from replying to an email in order to thank the sender for correctly using the correct punctuation (a semicolon) when using “however” as a conjunctive adverb. It was only when I started typing the thank-you email that I realized how crazy I sounded.

Don’t worry: I deleted it.

During a writing class, I asked students to think about an object that had power to them—and then write about the object from the object’s point of view. When I assign writing, I try to model it by writing on the topic, too, volunteering to share if no one else is willing. Through brainstorming and drafting that day, it occurred to me that I find much power in a pen. I always have; in fact, Courtney wrote about this on my blog, too, as part of an assignment she had to write.

I ended up writing from the point of view of a red pen—but not just any red pen. A pen with thick, wet ink that glistens as it dries on the paper. This is a pen wielded by a pompous professor, a Mrs. Grundy. It is a pen feared by many. Here is what my pen had to say:

My ink smells like fear. Thick and red, it bleeds onto the paper as I slash students’ work with painful lesions. I’m a high-class pen, more expensive than most—and rightly so. A benefit of being so expensive is that my ink was designed not to run after it dries. This is important because I’d hate for students’ tears to wash away the genius of my markings.

Sometimes I press so hard against the paper that I bleed onto the pages below. My favorite letter to draw is an “F,” but I am content drawing C’s and D’s as well. I’m also especially fond of a minus sign. I am good at writing check-marks, but I’m even better at writing X’s. I’m so powerful that I leave marks even on teacher’s hands when they wield me because they are not perfect, either, and I love to show them their flaws. No, even teachers are not strong enough to escape my judgment.

I stopped writing because it occurred to me that perhaps that is how some people see pens: they see writing as scary, grammar as a mystery. And that made me sad.

In grad school, my education professors warned us not to use red pen to grade students’ work. The red, they claimed, looked too much like blood, and it would seem that the comments were actually wounds on the students’ work—like the paper was bleeding.

I didn’t buy that, and I have since asked students their opinion on the matter. They chuckle whenever I ask, telling me that one color marking is just as intimidating—or not—as the next. But the professors’ comments got me thinking about pens and their effect on people—the connotation of their stroke, thick, thin, watery, or dry.

I do not like to write with pens that use thick, flowing ink that comes out wet. I do not like to use pens to intimidate. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and it should be wielded responsibly.

I prefer smooth pens—of medium or fine tips—with ink thick enough to run evenly but thin enough to dry on impact. The pens I like would not sound as spooky or arrogant as the one above. The pens I like are full of potential, each one housing an untold story within its ink. For me, a pen is full of a liquid dreams—an elixir that allows the mind to transcend its metaphysical boundaries and share itself with others. For me, there are few objects that hold more wonder, or potential, than the pen.

What story might be inspired by this little corgi butt and its obsession with whatever lives under the daisies?

What story might be inspired by this little corgi butt and its obsession with whatever lives under the daisies?

That magic came out in full force for me this past winter when, during a terrible snowstorm, I penned the majority of Corgi Capers 3 while waiting for the schools to reopen. It amazed me that the story cooking in my head could enter reality via that magic ink.

I’m excited to be finishing the final edits on Corgi Capers Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, in which I pay tribute to the bravery of fire fighters and the spirit of everyday heroes like a very special dog named Denby. My goal in writing the book is to inspire people to see heroes in everyday people and magic in everyday occurrences. The book should be released soon, and I hope you enjoy it!

Corgi Capers Comix: Feeding Time

Welcome to a new feature on my blog. I’m going to try to post one of these each month. I spent lots of time in high school drawing comics–I mean, studying. I continued my interest in comics during college with the school newspaper. Though my drawings are very cartoony, I hope to keep practicing them here while sharing my love of those quirky little corgis. This first comic is inspired by my own dogs, who become ornery if I don’t feed them exactly on time. Enjoy! -Val Muller

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Happy Star Wars Day!

Today is May Fourth, as in “May the Fourth be with you,” as in, “Happy Star Wars Day!”

May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth be with you!

Understandably, Star Wars Day is a special day for Leia and Yoda Corgi. When we first brought the corgis home, we thought about what to name them. As a writer and English teacher, I had already told myself that when I got a dog, I would name him after an author or a famous literary character. Chaucer was at the top of my list.

But when we saw our little corgi pup, his ears were so large (they were already sticking straight up when we got him) that he reminded us of Yoda from Star Wars. The name stuck immediately.

Yoda, a Pembroke

Yoda on his “gotcha day,” a tiny pup with huge ears.

Since we adopted a sister and brother, we decided we needed a female name for Yoda’s sister. I thought about Princess Leia’s famous hairdo, the one with two braids wrapped at the sides of her head. The puppy had also been acting like a princess from the moment we got her, so Princess Leia sounded perfect (though to prevent her from having a superiority complex, we just call her “Leia” for short).

IMG_0809

Leia dressed up like Yoda for Halloween (Yoda was afraid of the Yoda costume and decided to go as himself!).

When I wrote Corgi Capers, I wanted to name the corgis in a similar fashion, after famous characters that my protagonist, Adam Hollinger, was fond of. Because of both my desire to avoid copyright issues and to “make it my own,” I decided to create a fictional famous outer-space comic book series that Adam could draw from to name his pups.

In Corgi Capers, the pups are named Zeph and Princess Sapphie (but just “Sapphie” for short—Sapphie doesn’t need a superiority complex, either). Zeph is loyal and intelligent just like his namesake. Logan Zephyr is a fearless space commander who leads his crew, the Stellar Squadron, around the universe in search of adventure. Though Zeph the puppy is often fearful, he tries hard to live up to the bravery of his namesake, displaying courage even when he’s trembling inside.

A sketch of Logan Zephyr, one of Adam's favorite comic book characters in Corgi Capers.

A sketch of Logan Zephyr, one of Adam’s favorite comic book characters in Corgi Capers.

During one of his adventures, explorer Logan Zephyr comes upon a strange planet covered in quicksand. Underneath the quicksand is the beautiful Sapphire Kingdom inhabited by a princess named Princess Sapphire. Instead of being forthcoming about the fact that she is lonely and trapped on her isolated planet, she uses deceit and flattery to lure the explorers to her, and she uses treachery to try to trap them. Though she is beautiful and kind, she has a dark side. Adam decided this would be a perfect name for Zeph’s rambunctious sister, who is sweet when she wants to be but likes to dominate any situation and prefers using tricks than brains simply because it’s more fun.

A sketch of Princess Sapphire, the princess Logan encounters during one of his adventures.

A sketch of Princess Sapphire, the princess Logan encounters during one of his adventures.

Each May the Fourth, I’m reminded of the corgis’ “gotcha day” and the fun we had in naming them and introducing them to their new home. Since then, each day has been a new adventure, and I’m glad the corgis are along for the ride.

Tomorrow, we have a special guest post about naming dogs from awesome author C. Hope Clark. Stay tuned!

In Search of Winter by Sapphie Corgi

SapphieMy person has been complaining lately about a thing called “winter.” It sounded like it might be good to eat, so I searched all over for it—the kitchen, the pantry, and even the compost heap outside, which was covered up in snow. But I couldn’t find winter anywhere. I got so mad, mad, mad that I ran around the house until I found my brother. Then I bit his ears. Biting Zeph’s ears always calms me down.

Zeph was no fun, as usual, and told me to stop. Like that was going to happen! But then I remembered that Zeph knows just about every word in the world, so I told him I’d stop biting his ears if he told me what “winter” was. He answered right away.

He said winter was the cold and snow and white skies and swirling sleet. I growled a little.

“Give me one,” I said.

“One what?” Zeph asked.

“One winter. No, make that two winters. Give me two winters. Mine and yours. I want to take them into my bed and eat them.” I always took treats into my bed and ate them. I usually steal Zeph’s treats, too. What’s his is mine, after all. Then I remembered Zeph was taking too long giving me his winter, so I snarled a little and said, “Give me your winter. Now, now, now!”

leia sapphie“I can’t give you winter, Sapphie,” my brother said. “It isn’t something that can—”

But I’d heard enough. “Where are you hiding winter?” I growled.

“I’m not hiding it, Sapphie, I—” But as he spoke, he glanced outside. He’s not a very good liar, and I knew he’d hidden winter in the yard. I’d have to go out and look for it, I decided as I bit his ear again. Only… finding winter might have to wait a while. Digging is hard to do when there’s so much snow on the ground!

Christmas Letters from the Corgis

It’s that time of year. The corgis have written their annual Christmas letters and thought they’d share:

Leia’s Christmas letter:

I know the world can’t wait to read about my experiences this year, so I’ll try not to be brief. After all, my name is Princess Leia. I know what “Princess” means. It means I can do what I want, when I want. And there isn’t a thing you can do about it. So sit down a while and prepare to be wowed by my tale (and my tail–it’s so cute and tiny!)

The year started out with some really fun stuff. There were boxes everywhere. Everywhere I turned, there was a box to sit in! Soon, though, stuff started getting packed away, and that was no fun, fun, fun!

SapphieThen our people told us they had to sell the house and we were too messy, messy, messy! They made us stay with our friend Buster the Boxer. Boy, did I get to practice being bossy. Not only did I get to boss around my brother, but I also got to boss around an eighty-pound boxer. He has a laundry basket full of toys, and get this: he thinks they belong to him—ha! Just like he thinks his food dish belongs to him.

Nope. Buster’s food dish, Yoda’s food dish, and my food dish all belong to me. And I ate from all of them, too! When my person finally came back to get me, I was a little rotund ball of happiness.

Who cares if Yoda lost weight because I wouldn’t let him eat? All that matters is me, me, me! Right?

Well anyway, then we moved to this new place. The yard is much bigger, and there are animals everywhere. The great thing I learned is that I have spring allergies that make my eyes water. I get to take this thing called medicine, which my person gives me as a ball of cheese. There’s nothing better, I tell you!

The first thing I did at the new place is light out after a deer. I ran past one, two, three people’s yards… all the way to the tree line. It was only then that I realized my person was screaming at me. I turned around and ran back. I thought I was going to be yelled at, so I immediately plopped down onto the ground and rolled over on my back. That melts my person’s heart, and she never yells at me. Then I followed her around all day and snuggled whenever possible just to make sure there was no yelling.

What was my stupid brother doing all this time? Did he take the opportunity to chase the deer with me? Of course not. He just howled at our person and sat at her feet like a stinky little fraidy dog. Hmph! He makes me look like the bad dog!

Anyway, besides animals to chase (because we got these stupid collars that scare me if I run too far. Haha! I ran down the battery on that thing real fast!), there are stinky piles to roll in. I basically have to get a bath every weekend. I’m proud of it, what can I say? I also found several dead things, mostly bugs, but one of them was bigger than a bug. My person is looking at me now, saying it’s not decent to write details about dead things I found (and played with), seeing as this is a Christmas letter.

Speaking of Christmas, my person bought us a bag of rawhide bones for Christmas. We smelled her gift, of course, and demanded that she give us the bones right away. She was all like “okay, just one each,” but we took care of that. Why, just this morning, she gave us the last of the bones from that bag. And it isn’t even Christmas yet! I’ll bet you two peanut butter cookies she goes out and buys us another bag before long. She says they’re from Target—she finally found “made in U.S.A. bones there.” Whatever that means. As long as she buys more, I’m happy.

The last thing that happened was the snow. At first I loved, loved, loved it! But then a thing called ice came and made a crusty layer that I was just heavy enough to fall through—but slowly, not quickly like my bigger brother. I was afraid, so I ended up doing my business on the patio. My person didn’t like that, but she has to remember that I’m in charge, not her. BOL!

Well, my brother is sitting here at the keyboard, so I guess I’d better let him write his Christmas letter. He’s a boring fraidy dog, though, so it’s probably going to be a stupid letter. You should just read mine again.

Merry Christmas to you, and don’t forget to send me Christmas treats!

Love,
Leia Corgi

Yoda’s Christmas letter:

ZephI thought I’d start off this letter by warning you of all the scary things I’ve encountered this year: Leia, boxes, water, anything crinkly, bubble wrap, moving trucks, Buster, Leia, food dishes that are made of plastic, stuffed dog toys, foil, hats, costumes, stink bugs, ceramic ducks, dead animals my sister found, food dishes that are made of metal, books, bottles, baking pans, Howl-o-ween costumes, pizza boxes, Christmas trees, printers, and Leia.

Here are things that are not scary from this year: dried leaves (they are good to eat), rawhide bones, dog food, treats, blankets, leashes, and cuddling.

A lot of stuff happened this year, but right now, I’m sitting on my person’s lap, I’m in a warm house, I’ve had breakfast, and I’m being scratched behind the ears. My sister is on the floor not bullying me for once, and all is right with the world. I wish everyone was so lucky as me, to have a warm person with a lap to sit on and to be scratched behind the ears, and to feel how content the world is at times like these.

So all I can say is best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love,

Yoda Corgi

A Guest Post from Leia the Mouser

Leia, here. I was all set to brag about my feat this weekend involving a mouse, but my person says it wasn’t nice. She doesn’t know I’m here typing away, so keep it quiet, will ya?

So we were outside. It’s my favorite, favorite, favorite place to be when the weather’s just so, and my person was busy pulling up weeds. I had already eaten all the dirt clumps I felt like, so I needed something else to entertain me. Well, my person was pulling up some vines, and out pops a little black mouse. I’m “quick as a cat,” my person says, and before anyone knew what was happening, I had the mouse trapped under my paw. My person saw and yelled at me very loud.

“Leave it,” she screamed.

I wish I didn’t know what that means, but I do. So I had to let the mouse go.

But I’m not stupid, I tell ya. I knew my person would turn back to her weeding sure enough. She kept watching me, though. Here’s a picture of me at full alert, waiting for that stinkin’ mouse:

Leia on High Alert

Well, sure enough, my person turned back to her gardening. See, I laid down in the grass so my person thought I lost interest. Stupid person. She’s so easy to train. She was trying to pull out an especially tough weed, and I knew it was my chance. I had seen where the mouse went—right into a patch of tall grass. I knew it was only a matter of time before it would try to get away. Well, let’s just say I took advantage of the opportunity.

My person turned around with a handful of weeds and saw me rolling in something. Here’s what she said, very calmly to start off:

“Leia, if you’re rolling in something that stinks, then when we get inside you’re going to get a—Ahhh! Leia, that’s a dead mouse you’re rolling in! Stop that! Stop it now! Leave it! Leave it! Leave it!”

Like I said, I know what “leave it” means, but I could tell my person wasn’t going to come too close. Hearing all the noise, my brother had already run toward the house, and my person was running toward the house, too, saying something about getting a shovel, a towel, and a bottle of soap. I had about forty seconds all to myself, and I made the most of it. I wish my person had taken a picture—she takes a picture of just about everything I do, but she said she didn’t want to get this one on film.

Well, out she comes with her friend, a shovel, a towel, and some soap, and I knew my fun was over.

I tried to go up and say hi to her friend, but he just shook his head and called me a little murderer and a terror!

A terror?

Hmph!

I’d like to see him catch a mouse with his bare paws–err, hands, that is.

Anyway, the mouse was shoveled into a compost bag, the soap was deployed, and I suffered the indignity of getting an outdoor bath—in front of all the neighbors!—with a cold, harsh hose. The nerve!

I showed her. As soon as she finished washing me, I wiped all that nasty water off on a pile of potting soil.

Then I got another bath!

I’m telling you, it just wasn’t worth it.

Just kidding, it was.

Uh oh, my person is coming. You didn’t read this, okay? But if you did happen to read it, and enjoyed it, feel free to send me a cookie. My favorite are peanut butter flavored. My address is Leia Corgi, PO Box—oops, gotta run!

The Moving Chronicles: Part 4

It’s been over a month since the move, and the corgis have been settling in slowly. When we first moved in, they were on their very best behavior. Here is a picture of them on the very first morning in the new house. They had been there but ten minutes and already seemed to know they were not allowed upstairs, just like in the townhome.

Seemed is a key word.

At the vet’s recommendation, we try to limit the amount of stairs the corgis conquer each day (because of potential back problems—their father broke his leg and injured his back doing the corgi version of acrobatics). When I went upstairs to unpack some boxes, they stayed without any physical restraint, patiently waiting for me to return.

no stairs

We are being good dogs!

It wasn’t a day later that Leia was doing laps around the house, up one staircase and down the next. Yoda, good as always, stayed put. We soon acquired three child safety gates to keep her downstairs during the move.

Next, the sleeping arrangements. At the old house, the corgis had a very large, open kitchen that could be easily gated from the rest of the house via a large safety gate. The floor, vinyl, was easily cleaned, and Leia’s slopping around in the water dish (she dips her paws while she drinks if we’re not watching) didn’t cause any problems. Because the new house has a very different layout, there was no large, cleanable space available. The only choices: crate the corgis or let them have the run of (most of) the downstairs floor.

We decided to trust them, and for three nights, they proved that they would sleep all night in their beds, spend time when people were away in the kitchen, and not go on furniture or anywhere else they weren’t allowed.

Or so I thought.

One morning, I decided to sneak downstairs quickly and snap a picture before the dogs had time to react. Note that each morning, Leia had been sleeping next to her brother, either on the floor or in her dog bed. But here is what the picture proved:

2013-07-06_23-32-57_136

Yes, Leia is a sneak. She had been sleeping on the couch and jumping off when she heard me getting ready upstairs. You would think the solution would be to crate them at night, but no–as cute as they are, the solution was just to make sure I covered the couch really well with the blanket next time 🙂

For a few days, the corgis enjoyed the new house without incident (unless you count Leia puking twice on the nice, stainless carpets an incident). Leia seemed comfortable almost right away:

leia tired

I love watching the world upside-down!

Yoda, still afraid of everything, followed his sister around and watched everything from a distance. After watching Leia “help” to unpack books twice, Yoda decided finally to help:

helping unpack

Who needs books when you have us?!

Inside the house, the corgis had settled in nicely. But outside… a whole new world.

The new house has a very large yard, and it’s only fenced in by a horse fence–a corgi could easily escape. It also came with an invisible fence. But when we first moved in, the corgis seemed hesitant, staying only very close to the house or to me. They’d previously lived only in a townhome with a tightly-fenced, small yard. This was a big change for them. I thought I’d cut them a break and not train them on the invisible fence just yet. We were scheduled to go away for a week (the corgis were staying with their dog cousin Buster), and I decided to commence training after we returned. But once again, adventurous Leia spoiled those plans. One morning, at dark:thirty, Leia lit out after a group of deer about a quarter mile away. Sharing her excitement, Yoda followed her. I screamed at them, of course, and Yoda stopped almost immediately, plopping on his back so I could put his leash back on. Leia did not stop.

You’ll understand why I don’t have a picture!

Though Leia will listen indoors, when she’s outside, she is distracted by anything. I was screaming her name, shouting any tone I could think of–anger, fear, control, calm–and nothing got through to her. She was feral. It wasn’t until she hit the treeline two yards down (and the deer disappeared into the woods) that she turned around, realized she was being called, and ran back. She ducked under the fence and immediately plopped onto her back in ultimate submission. I didn’t yell at her, but she knew I was mad. All that morning, she followed me around the house, cuddling as much as possible. I’m telling you: it’s impossible to stay mad at Leia.

Still, it necessitated an earlier-than-expected invisible fence training. And that will be the subject of the last of the moving chronicles. See you next time.

 

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