Category Archives: corgi capers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Today is May Fourth, as in “May the Fourth be with you,” as in, “Happy Star Wars Day!”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
I’m pleased to announce that Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive is now available in audio format. You can download your copy from Audible.com. I’ve downloaded several books from Audible–it’s a great deal when you purchase a membership, and if you sign up for a free trial, you can get several books free and then very inexpensively. I transfer my audio books to my mp3 player and listen during long car rides, runs, or even when mowing the lawn (I place my earbuds inside my ear protection).
I’m also giving away discount codes for the audio book. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. The prize is one download code for Corgi Capers audio book. For every 100 entries, I will add a second download code (up to 5), so share with your friends. In the meantime, you can listen to a free preview of the book here.
Enter to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’m writing today about a special corgi and a special cause.
This is Denby Dog. In 2005, the corgi lost the ability to eat, drink, or blink. Today, he faces another challenge: degenerative myelopathy, a progressive and incurable disease of the spinal cord. Despite all of his challenges, Denby Dog and his special person are still going strong–Corgi Strong!, as his Facebook page asserts.
You can learn all about Denby Dog in this interview on Babble.com.
As part of this cause, a corgi community on Facebook, led by Iron Corgi Maggie Thatcher, has come together with some great (and mostly dog-related) items up for auction. The money raised in the auction will go right to Denby Dog and his Person to help with vet bills.
As part of this auction, I’ve donated something special: the chance to name one more character in the upcoming Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Any and all money raised for this item will go directly to Denby, and I will send the winner an autographed copy of the book. You can find this item in the auction by using the link in the next paragraph.
If you’d like to participate in the auction, check out Iron Corgi Maggie Thatcher’s Facebook page (here), and then go check out her photo album (here) that contains all the goodies up for auction. Bidding is open for the week.
My 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!”
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!
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!
Then 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!
Yoda’s Christmas letter:
I 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.
Leia and Yoda here. We are kind of scared, so we decided to write this blog post together.
You see, our person has been…acting weird. And who ya calling scared, brother?
Let me tell it, Leia.
See, our person has been acting weird. She brought home these things. They smelled like corgi toys, but they weren’t to be played with.
They were, were, were! I was about to chew on the–
No, Leia, they weren’t. They were to be… worn.
You see, Yoda doesn’t like to wear anything. Whenever I wear a Doritos bag on top of my head, he runs away and hides. Or when I wear a mud scarf around my neck and then get to wear shampoo and water… Anyway, as soon as I saw what our person brought, I knew I wanted to wear it right away. I growled at Yoda so he’d know I was claiming it: I wanted to wear the green costume.
Yes, she did. But our person told us that the green costume was for me. But it was too…scary!
Yoda, you’re not very smart. That costume is called a Yoda Costume. That’s why you were supposed to wear it.
But…but…it covered my…ears.
We couldn’t even try to get the coat on you. You were too scared. But not me. I thought it was fun, fun, fun!
There’s nothing scarier than my ears being covered.
What about foil?
Or knocking on a door?
Your reflection in a window?
Or crinkly dog toys?
That costume was NOT the scariest thing of all. See how pretty I look in it?
Glad you liked it, then. I thought it was pretty scary.
But you were jealous, too. You were jealous when our person started taking pictures of me. You wanted to join in the fun. See, here’s a picture of you trying to sneak into MY photo session!
But she said if you were gonna be in the picture, you had to be wearing a costume.
So then she put the cowgirl hat on you.
CowBOY hat, you mean.
Ha! No. Cow. GIRL. Hat. It was pink. See?
Everything i have is pink. My pink skull collar. My leash.
So, that hat was supposed to be for me.
It’s okay. I know that hat is mine just like the Yoda costume is mine, and both our dishes are mine, and all our toys are mine.
After all, you were scared of the hat, too.
Don’t lie, Yoda. I can see in this picture how you can barely hold your head up.
That’s because, um, that hat is, um… heavy.
Heavy, my left paw!
I don’t think so. Your head was drooping like that because you were scared, scared, scared!
And then our person started laughing and felt sorry for you. She took off that hat and put that stupid pumpkin shirt on you. At least your ears stood up for the picture, but I know you were scared.
How do you know?
When our person told you to sit up on the stairs for the picture, you wouldn’t move.
What do you mean?
You just sat there frozen, like you couldn’t move in that shirt.
I couldn’t! My muscles froze solid. That shirt is haunted.
It’s not, Yoda. You’re just a scaredy dog. I can’t believe our person had to LIFT you up onto the stairs while you were wearing that shirt.
Well, at least this Howl-o-ween thing is over.
Hate to tell you, brother, but it’s not over yet. And after that there are the holidays. You remember, when our people put up the–
Don’t say it!
And they tear open wrapped gifts.
And give you all kinds of new toys that you’re terrified of.
No! We have enough of those.
Maybe YOU have enough, but I can never get enough of those squeaky–
Yoda? Yoda, where did you go?
Oh, I see. At the mention of “toys,” Yoda has fled the scene. He’s probably hiding in his little house. Ha! While he’s away, here is a picture of him last holiday season. Our people were putting a tree inside our house, and he was watching from a far distance.
I was so close, they kept stepping on me. I can’t think of anything more fun, fun, fun! And speaking of scaredy dogs, here is a picture of a corgi-lantern our person made. It’s based on the most cowardly corgi in the universe, aka my brother.
Well, until next time, Leia Corgi signing out. Oh, and remember to send me those peanut butter treats!
The Corgi Move: An Update
Since I last checked in, the corgis were getting adjusted to their new home. Now that they’ve had time to settle in, here is an update.
First, the corgis finally seem like they know this is “home.” It took a while—it was at least two months before they would actually sleep in their beds. Here they are in the bed in my writing office:
Prior to that, they had to be glued to my feet during every waking hour. Still, they don’t like being alone when I’m home. Every weekend, they wake me up earlier than I get up during the week—just to be able to sleep while I’m downstairs with them. (Either that, or they’re trying to tell me I should be up writing rather than sleeping!). Here’s a picture of Leia just moments after crying pathetically to get me out of bed:
Secondly, Yoda, the fraidy-dog, is still—well, afraid. He’s not super bright, and he’s gotten “lost” a few times in the house. We have a double stairway—a front staircase and a back one. Yoda has a habit of sneaking into the dining room, which is gated off on only one door. He sits at the gate, staring into the kitchen, and acts forlorn that he cannot get through the gate. His sister has to run around the long way and “get” him for me.
The other day, he snuck into the dining room, couldn’t figure out how to get back, and ended up going up one staircase, getting “lost” in the upstairs hallway, barking his “distress bark,” and finally finding his way down the back staircase. The house isn’t that big, but like I said—Yoda is good, but not too bright. His favorite activities in the new house include sniffing all the air vents in the floors and rolling his back against the bottom stair in the family room.
There are a few empty boxes I’ve saved because the corgis still love to sleep in them. Here’s a picture of them after a long, hard morning of chasing the green laser around:
Leia, on the other hand, has been more mischievous. She is giving Corgi Capers character Sapphie a run for her money. Slowly, Leia has been sneaking upstairs (they aren’t allowed on the second floor of the house to prevent back injuries from excessive stair use) to “mark” each of the rooms upstairs. She only has two left to “mark.” The thing is, she knows she isn’t supposed to pee on the floor, and as soon as she does it, she runs down and claws at me, crying, so that I know she was bad. I guess the dogs that used to live in this house have left their scents, and it must be driving Leia crazy.
One of Leia’s favorite activities is to visit with the frogs and toads that frequent our patio once the sun goes down. Here’s a picture of her with the largest of her buddies:
Their invisible fence training is going well. Scared-y Yoda is terrified of the “warning beep” made by the fence, and he won’t go even halfway to the edge of his boundary. If I go too far, he turns his back to me, sits, and stares at the house. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. Leia will test the boundaries all the way up to the “zap.” The beeping warning does not compute in her mind—she doesn’t associate it with the zap. And she has allowed herself to be zapped a few times to chase a deer or two. She seems to be calming down now.
Lots of fodder for Corgi Capers book 3, which is in the works. Because I’m slightly behind schedule, I’m leaving my “name that cat contest” open for a bit longer. Be part of Corgi Capers history and name a human or feline character:
Speaking of which—to encourage more readers to post reviews, I am offering a free Kindle copy of Corgi Capers book 2 for anyone who posts a review of Corgi Capers book 1 on Amazon. To receive your free book, simply email me the URL of your Amazon.com review, using the email address you use to shop on Amazon. I’ll send you a copy of Corgi Capers book 2 in hopes that if you enjoy it, you’ll leave a review for that book as well.
Thanks for reading. Stay cool, and stay corgi!