Category Archives: corgi

The Day of Improbable Things

Yesterday was Leia and Yoda’s 12th (!!!) birthday!

Happy 12th bark-day!

I’ve been swamped with the transition to distance learning with my high school students, but the corgis have been on my mind. First, I’m working on book 4. It has only a working title right now. I know it’s not right, and I’ll know the right title when I see it. I can say that book 4 is the hardest for me to write because it takes place during a snow storm, and I’ve had bad experiences! But I’m hoping to channel those into something kids will love.

Second, the corgis have been on my mind because–well, they are at my feet. All. The. Time. The benefit of distance learning is that when I teach from home, Leia and Yoda snooze under my desk. Most of the time they keep quiet, but at least they save their barking until I am right in the middle of a class 😉

During a creative writing class, I had my students write an autobiographical poem. I always try to write along with the students–something new–to show them how even experienced writers struggle with the writing process. So, in honor of the corgis’ birthday, I wrote a poem about the day we brought the corgis home. Here it is! I hope you enjoy 🙂

And, now that my kids are both sleeping through the night, I plan to blog on here much more frequently!

 

 


The Day of Improbable Things

by Val Muller

 

We took a rare drive that morning,
Into the next county,
To see a matinee. 

 

Celebratory burger pieces for our 12th bark-day!

It was a children’s movie,
And we had no kids.
But Neil Gaiman was well worth the money.

 

We should have been home sleeping
Instead of in the car,
But there we were, driving,
Thinking about the Improbable Things
We’d just seen in Coraline: 

 

Her improbably name,
A woman with a million dogs,
Training mice for a circus,
Having Another Mother,
A world of doppelgangers; 

 

Two people with no kids,
Driving miles
To see a children’s film
On a day when
We could have slept in. 

 

It was as Improbable as
Driving by a utility pole
At the very moment
A person with a hammer
Nailed up a sign that said
CORGI PUPPIES FOR SALE

 

As Improbable as
    A dog-hater
    Looking at me knowingly,
    Saying,
“Seems like we better stop.” 

 

Improbable as
    Being the first ones to look
At the pen of four dogs,
The largest running up to me,
Our eyes telling each other,
“You are the one.” 

 

Improbable as
    The dog-hater looking me in the eye
And wondering,
“Hadn’t we better get two,
For company?”
And the owner,
Liking that idea,
Saying, “I’ll give you a deal
If you take two.” 

 

The three males were named already,
Identified with personalities.
But their sister was not.

 

“You can’t take two males,”
The owner said.
“You’ll have to take the female.”
She looked regretful and mumbled,
“She’s okay, I guess.”

 

“The female” had that diva look about her,
Sometimes bullying the other three,
Sometimes being bullied,
Never fitting in. 

 

The owner
Loaned us a book about corgis
As we drove to the ATM
And had lunch
And chatted
About whether these two dogs
Would really be ours,
An Improbable conversation
For a day beginning
With a matinee. 

 

“The female,” the outcast, the afterthought,
Was held hostage when we returned
By the Hello Kitty Apocalypse,
Two young women–sisters–
Dressed in pink and black
And Hello Kitty purses
And matching shoes
And Hello Kitty seat covers
In their pink and black convertible. 

 

“The female” snuggled in the arms of the older Kitty.
My eyes locked with her round, brown, canine ones.
Her eyes were a universe,
A Schrodinger’s window
Through which I saw in a flash
One of her futures:
Days of dressing up–
Doggy raincoat and boots,
Boots matching collar matching tutu
Matching a pink cushion on the couch.
A pedicure?

 

A second supernova in her eyes
Showed another world:
Grass and mud,
Frogs and squirrels
And her brother,
Who I had already mentally renamed Yoda
(because of the ears)
Always at her side. 

 

“Hi Princess,” Hello Kitty was telling the dog.
And it was like the two worlds in Coraline,
A perfect world of button-eyed Hello Kitties,
Or an ordinary one with me. 

 

The owner looked at me with frantic eyes.
I don’t think she liked the Kitties.
“These two ladies were wondering,” she croaked,
“If you changed your mind.
They want to take the female home.” 

 

“Her name is Princess,” Kitty said. 

 

The owner’s eyes screamed at me,
As if she too had seen
The female’s Hello Kitty Future
And cowered. 

 

“Yes,” I said. “We’ll take them both.” 

 

I never knew Hello Kitty could kill,
But in those eyes shone murderous intent.
“The female” turned to me, my Yoda already in my arms,
T
hen leapt away from her captor,
Leapt away from her Other Mother
And those creepy button eyes,
Leapt into the surprised arms of my husband.

She trembled just a moment,
Perhaps shaking off the limbo of
The world that could have been.
Then she took a look at Yoda.
Princess did have a nice ring,
To match her brother.
And then Leia stopped squirming
And settled into the crook of my husband’s arm
Because she knew
Finally, after an Improbable day,
She was home.

 

Arooo for the small stuff

Leia and Yoda

Leia and Yoda spot a deer off in the field. Yoda, the “good” one, listens as he is told to “stay.” Leia looks at him, asking, “really, you aren’t going to come with me as I disobey and chase after that deer?”

I’ve recently blogged over at Lance’s Dog Patch about my experience this summer at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of the Potomac‘s corgi rescue picnic. I’m sharing here for my readers:

I had the honor of speaking at the rescue picnic for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of the Potomac in August. One of the club’s objectives is “to maintain an organized rescue service” to help homeless or displaced Pembroke Welsh Corgis find a good home. The picnic, an annual tradition, was held to honor those who had rescued such corgis.

While I was invited to speak about my own corgis, Leia and Yoda, and their inspiration in my mystery series Corgi Capers, in preparing for the picnic I reflected on what my dogs truly mean to me. A highlight of the picnic—aside from the barbecue (thanks, Kathy and Stephon!)—was hearing the stories of rescuers adopting their dogs. The sacrifices, the time and energy, the love poured into the bond between human and canine. More than that, it was seeing all the corgis and the joy they brought and bring their people—and vice versa–even in the summer heat.

My daughter who came along, loved going around and asking to pet all the dogs. I wasn’t sure who was happier—her or the corgis. For the three-year-old, there was no pouting at this picnic. And that’s what I really think matters about dogs in our lives. It’s the mutual joy–the way they bring out the best in us. They make us slow down and appreciate details we might otherwise miss in life.

Talking to her grandkids, my grandmother always lamented the fact that we would one day grow up, that kids make everything more fun. While this may be the case, I say one of the secrets to prolonged youth is having an animal to care for–and to care for you.

In my own experience, my corgis have helped me to see other perspectives. It could be as simple as looking at a thunderstorm from two inches off the ground (it’s terrifying!), or learning that I need to dig out snow tunnels in the winter (check out the snow Olympics here).

In early morning walks around the yard with my dogs, I’ve seen sunlight streaming through a dew-speckled spider web, felt mole tunnels collapse under my feet, caught dozens of winter sunrises blazing through the white landscape, and relaxed to summer sunsets kissing the world to sleep. These are things I would likely have missed, relegated instead to the comforts of air conditioning and heat, if not for Leia and Yoda prancing and dancing and “Aroooing” at me to join them.

Once, in the dead of winter, I heard the sound of complete silence. No bird, plane, car, human, or canine. Leia and Yoda, normally barkers, froze as if entranced by the same winter magic that captivated me.

And it goes further back.

Growing up, the family dog, a bichon frise named Chip, made every day an adventure with daily walks and playtime. My sister and I peeked into sewers, checking out the tunnel systems with him. I walked in total darkness while listening to rustling leaves, sparking my imagination and strengthening my courage. We kept track of changing scenes around the neighborhood, and introduced ourselves to those we would not otherwise know. Scenes from my canine adventures have certainly made their way into my Corgi Capers novels, and for good reason.

To me, dogs bring me perpetual childhood. They splash in puddles, they run through bushes. Heck, they stop and smell the roses. I think my grandmother was onto something when she said that we all lose a little something when the children in our lives grow up. But she didn’t have dogs. I suspect that if she did, she might have felt a bit differently.

Picture

Muller poses with husband Eric at the PWCCP’s rescue picnic. She was honored to receive a “superstar rescue award.” She auctioned off a chance to name a character in the upcoming Corgi Capers book 4 to raise money for corgi rescue.

Marshmallow Snow (+ givewaway)

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, and I admit I’ve been remiss. With Leia and Yoda, and their two human siblings, things can get extra hectic, and spare time has been spent scratching dogs behind the ears rather than blogging.

Corgi and children

Yoda guards the baby as he tries to “crawl” to his sister’s gifts.

But I have been writing. In addition to the weekly (free) flash fiction over at www.ValMuller.com, I’ve been working on Corgi Capers book 4.

The fourth installment of the Corgi Capers series opens on a quintessential Christmas morning. Things don’t stay peaceful for very long, but in that opening scene I wanted to capture what Christmas morning was to me as a child.

Corgi treat and toddler

Yoda enjoys a treat from his stocking.

Corgi on soft carpet

Leia retreats with her treat to avoid the Christmas excitement.

In the scene, Adam and Courtney are opening presents with puppies Zeph and Sapphie. Mom and Dad are in the room, of course, but are far removed from the Christmas magic of childhood. In the background, the song “Marshmallow World” is playing. (If you’re not familiar with the song, you can catch a version here, with lyrics: https://youtu.be/0ujM9wreqGQ).

The song, to me, embodies everything magical about Christmas. A red sun, “like a pumpkin head.” A friendly metaphor for snow—a world covered in marshmallows. The world as a snowball, a world meant for sweethearts. In that first scene, Adam and Courtney each receive a gift ripe with all the possibilities of Christmas. Their parents, while physically present, are not part of that magical world of childhood, and when Mom and Dad are whisked away onto a cruise, it’s up to Adam and Courtney to work a bit of Christmas magic on their own—during a blizzard.

I’m enjoying writing the novel and can’t wait until it’s released. My goal is to have it out in time for the holidays next year—right around November 1.

The way kids act at the holidays brings me full circle to corgis and the Corgi Capers series. Dogs, like children, always seem to see the magic in things that grownups are too tired to busy to notice. An annoying coating of snow for a grown-up may mean extra time to shovel or travel, but for a dog or a kid, it’s a chance to romp around, build forts, and snack on the tasty white treat. Christmas wrapping paper means extra time clearing the floor before being able to vacuum—if you’re a grown-up. For kids and dogs, it becomes a fantastic campsite, with colorful balled-up paper for throwing and lounging on.

I remember magical evenings as a child. Mom was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and the living room was darkened. I slid across the hardwood floor while The Nutcracker played on (I’m dating myself here) our sound system that still played records. The Christmas tree was lit, as was the orange glow of candles in the window and the rainbow glow of a glass pine tree on the end table. The colorful glow in the darkness held every magical possibility to me, and the whole thing felt surreal. Sugarplum fairies and Christmas elves could emerge at any second. That would have been just as believable as my mother entering the room. I could hardly believe, entering the kitchen and its bright lights and normal dinner, that I had been on the same planet in those few moments before dinner.

That’s the magic of the holidays, and it’s something kids and pets often hold all year round. No matter your age, I hope you’ve found some magic of your own.

Happy new year 😉

To celebrate the new year, I am giving away two of my other novels: Faulkner’s Apprentice and The Scarred Letter. To enter, use the easy Rafflecopter form/link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fiction: Petunia’s Corgi Steed

This prompt was inspired by a writing event I attended. At the Loudoun Library’s Words Out West Festival, I shared from my newest novels, The Man with the Crystal Ankh and The Girl Who Flew Away. Afterwards, author Bobbi Carducci shared some writing prompts with the audience, and I stayed to participate.

The prompt was the first line in the story below.

While most people thought of literal riders—horses, I had corgis on my mind. I couldn’t help but remember the legend of the fairy saddle, so of course in my mind, the four riders were fairies, all riding fairy steeds—corgis!

Petunia’s Corgi Steed

Val Muller

From behind a lacy curtain she watched as four riders galloped toward the house. They were the same four as last time, and they held the fur of their corgi steeds with wild abandon. The corgis flew through the dewy grass, leaving four dark trails through the otherwise pristine lawn. As they neared, Petunia could see that the corgis’ fur was wet from dew.

They approached the house, and the corgis left stains of water and mud on the patio. She could only imagine the mess they would leave in the house. Just like last time.

The leader of the four, a fiery fairy with golden hair and wild, orange eyes, dismounted. He shaded his eyes from the morning sun and glanced up at the window. “Petunia, we know you’re up there. We see you at the window. Come out.”

Downstairs, the dog barked.

Yoda being mischievous in the grass.

Petunia pulled the curtain aside and called through the open window. “There was too much trouble last time, Sunbeam.”

“Nonsense. We’re riding to the pond today. The beavers have dammed the stream again, and there’s all sorts of mud pooling around for our steeds to enjoy. We’re going to eat dandelions and rose petals and bask in the sun.”

The mud she could do without, but rose petals were her favorite. But after what happened last time…

“Fluffy got in so much trouble last time. And she was given a—” She lowered her voice. “A bath.”

Downstairs, the dog barked again.

“Don’t call her ‘Fluffy,’ ” Sunbeam said. “You know her name just as well as I. Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow.”

Petunia sighed. “Her name is Fluffy, and she’s not supposed to get out while the humans are away. It always upsets them so. Last time after the bath, they kept her inside for days.”

The rider snickered. “What are you going to do, watch ‘Fluffy’ sleep on the floor all day? What kind of life is that for a corgi? Corgis are made as fairy steeds. They are meant to run through meadows and grass and mud. And guardian fairies like you are meant as riders—not house fairies!”

Another rider called up to Petunia. “Just look at how happy our steeds are.” Lilac waved her lavender locks as the corgis twirled in circles on the patio.

Petunia sighed. A breeze brought the scent of grass and flowers, and the curtain brushes her wing.

“Okay.” She sighed. Then, with a low whistle, Fluffy—Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow—arrived, ready to carry her fairy rider into the great outdoors.

Yoda chillin’ with his fluffy buddy.

The pair pranced down the stairs, over the pristine carpeting the humans had just cleaned, past the neatly-folded laundry in the hallway, and across the sparkling floor of the kitchen. Petunia stopped her steed by the door. Should she really do this? There would be yelling. Fluffy would have a bath. Was it worth it?

Fluffy—Shadowdancer—scratched the door and barked.

With a smile, Petunia hovered in the air and unlocked the mechanism humans loved so much. Outside, her four companions hovered, too, using all their might to pull open the heavy glass door. In a quick moment, Shadowdancer was free, and she joined her four companions. The five fairies descended to their steeds, and they rode into the breeze that carried the scent of mud and dandelions and rose petals and adventure.


Corgi Capers book 4 is in the works. In the meantime, you might consider my two new young adult releases:

For the younger end of the YA spectrum:

   No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.

Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.

Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.

But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…

Find it at Amazon and other retailers. And from April 30-May 14, find it discounted directly from the publisher during the Spring Fling Sale!

And for the slightly older YA crowd:

Everyone’s heard the legend of the hollow oak—the four-hundred year curse of Sarah Willoughby and Preston Grymes. Few realize how true it is.

Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.

Find it at Amazon and other retailers!

The Great Strawberry Scare

The morning was going relatively smoothly. The toddler, who now tries to “help” feed the corgis, had not tried to eat any dog food this morning. She had also refrained from playing “witch’s cauldron” with the corgis’ water.

The corgis had not gone off chasing early-morning deer, nor was the neighbor’s half-corgi out to start a barking war at 6 a.m. And Leia had even refrained from rolling in the tempting scent of whatever was using the space under the pine tree as a pooping ground.

I’d even packed my lunch, full of freshly-cut fruit and vegetables. I filled my water bottle and glanced at the clock. It was only 6:39.

All in all, a good morning!

I still had time for—could it be?—breakfast! I set the toddler down at her play kitchen. She seemed content drinking her milk while dancing to the alphabet song that plays each and every time she presses the stove button.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G…

A, B, C, D….

A, B, C…

The song rang aloud as in my head as I sang to myself about the possibilities of breakfast.

A, B, C, D….

A bagel, banana, perhaps a yogurt?

A, B, C, E, F, G, H, I….

A breakfast sandwich in the freezer… Or, dare I sit down to a bowl of cereal?…

The possibilities seemed as endless as the repetition of the alphabet song.

I glanced in the pantry and noticed Yoda watching me shyly from the living room. He usually sleeps on the kitchen rug near the kitchen sink. Why was he cowering in the living room? I looked at Leia, normally the source of his terror. But she wasn’t being her normal menacing self. In fact, she seemed to be cowering, too. A moment more of extended eye contact, and she whined, then backed up a few paces toward Yoda.

Something was going on.

Thoughts of breakfast faded and I grabbed the toddler to examine the living room.

And there it was.

Three bright red streaks on the beige carpet.

Blood.

I first checked the toddler. No blood. Of course not. I would have noticed.

But this was a lot of blood. Wouldn’t I have noticed if one of the corgis was bleeding that much?

“Corgis, outside now!” I urged. Something in my voice made them move especially efficiently. I shoed them out onto the deck and shut the glass door, glancing for traces of blood.

Earlier in the season, I’d discovered something had tunneled underneath our patio. And the night before, there had been a huge opossum hiding behind our grill. (I mean huge: larger than Leia, it seemed. We’re talking Rodents-of-Unusual-Size-from-The-Princess-Bride-huge). I didn’t know much about opossums, but I wondered: would they attack if provoked? And how was it that all morning I didn’t notice an injury on either corgi capable of producing that much blood?

Or another option: had Leia caught another mouse? She is more persistent, if not clumsier, than a cat, and has caught her share of mice. Could that red streak be… I shivered at the possibility, especially imagining what might happen if the toddler got her hands on a mouse corpse.

Since the corgis seemed content outside, I hurried to clean up the blood, before the stain had a chance to set. While I cleaned, I let my mind work. Did I have time to run the injured corgi to the vet before work? Should I collect a sample of the blood?

As I cleaned, I noticed that the stain came right up—not typical of blood-on-carpet-experiences of the past. It also smelled kind of fruity. My sleepy mind meandered around logic. Could it be diarrhea? Maybe one of the corgis had some bathroom issues and then wiped themselves on the carpet after coming in…

I wrapped the toddler in a blanket and went outside to investigate. The corgis were still sitting on the deck (looking at me rather strangely), and their piles of poop were as normal as ever there in the back yard.

I came inside and gave them an extra treat, an attempt to convince them I wasn’t losing it. I then called my husband. The night before, he’d run our automatic vacuum robot, and I wondered if maybe the vacuum had dragged something red across the carpet.

Crisis averted: Yoda relaxes with a rawhide after “the great strawberry scare of 2017.”

“Hey, what’s red and squishy and may have left a streak on the carpet?” I asked.

I could hear his eyebrow raise.

“I don’t think it’s blood,” I added.

He sighed. “Weren’t you cutting up strawberries this morning?”

“Right! Thanks!” I ended the conversation, relieved. Of course I’d been cutting up strawberries, and I’d given a little slice to each of the corgis. Leia, as usual, devoured hers immediately. But Yoda does this thing.

Whenever anyone gives Yoda a treat, whether it’s a bit of meat, a piece of fruit or vegetable, or a cookie or rawhide, he trots off with it, his paws clicking on the kitchen floor as he prances away with his treasure. He drops the delight in front of the two stairs that form a landing in the living room. I remember when we moved into the house, the literal first thing Yoda did was run into the living room and rub his back against those two stairs. Since that first day, the side of the bottom stair has been crusted with dog hair: it’s his altar and his friend, his favorite square foot of the house.

He repeats the motion anytime he gets food, only instead of rubbing his back against the stair, he places the food in front of the stair and rubs his back and neck on the food.

“Yoda,” I called. Yoda approached, hesitantly.

“Roll over.”

He obeyed my command, and I looked carefully in the black fur of his tricolored coat. Sure enough, there at the neck, was a tiny speck of sweet-smelling strawberry juice, evidence of his early morning adventure with a strawberry treat and reassurance to his frazzled corgi-mom that all was indeed right with the world.

At least for the rest of the morning.

Chicken Soup: Making a Family

chipcuteI am happy to share that my story, “Making a Family,” appeared in a recent edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It’s the story of my childhood dog, Chip, and the way he influenced our family–even those of us thought to have a heart of stone.

Chicken Soup has recently made my story available to read for free. You can click here to read all about Chip and the way he changed my family.

 


My publisher, Barking Rain Press, has made all of the company’s ebooks available for just $1.99 from now until July 10. If you love dogs, check out Seven Days to Goodbye by Sheri Levy, a novel about a therapy dog in training. You can also check out my young adult novel, The Scarred Letter, or dozens of other titles.

1200x630-ScarredLetter

Changing Seasons and Enjoying the Unknown

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was called Four Puppies (I found a few copies available on Amazon.com here). At that age, I loved the changing weather and enjoyed watching the four puppies learn not to mourn the loss of each season.

Recently, however, I remember having a conversation with someone: we both agreed that each season offers something more to look forward to in terms of what follows—except for autumn. Winter offers the promise of spring, of melting snow and blooming flowers. Spring offers the promise of endless and carefree summer days, of wind whispering through leafy trees and painting patterns of light and shadow on the lawn. Summer offers the promise of cooler autumn days, of blazing foliage and cozy harvests. I personally never look forward to the cold, crippling snow of winter.

For my corgis, Leia and Yoda, their “looking forward” is a bit different than mine. For them, corg-snowsummer still offers the promise of a respite from heat (as well as all the awesome smells of autumn’s decaying leaves); autumn promises the fun of a crisp snow (Yoda could sit in snow for hours!); and winter offers the promise of melting snow, smelly mud (for mud baths!), critters emerging from winter hiding (all the smells!); but spring offers only the promise of weather that’s too hot for my corgis to enjoy. Indeed, I could never convince my corgis to enjoy water, whether a large body of water, a little wading pool, or a squirt from the hose. They’d much rather hang out inside, where they take turns napping on the prime kitchen vent, through which the cool air conditioning brings their heavy coats to a more tolerable temperature.

I never understood why they feared water so much. If only they gave it another try, maybe they’d see what they were missing. It’s the same way I feel about a certain relative of mine (ahem!) who refuses to try seafood of any sort. If only she would give it an honest try, she would likely see what she’s been missing. (I can’t believe she gives up the opportunity to have bacon-wrapped scallops every Christmas!)

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Coa.

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Cao.

My dad always told me, “A coward dies a thousand deaths; a brave man dies just one.” Although I knew what he meant, even I was hesitant to take chances, especially in my younger days. I preferred the familiar. And it’s true—we mostly regret the things we didn’t do, not the things we tried.

It’s a lesson I wish Yoda would learn (for a growing list of things he’s afraid of, check here). In Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi, a book I based largely off of Yoda, I write of a corgi who is afraid of, well, almost everything; and his owner, the opposite, looks forward to each new experience.

In celebration of the changeover to spring, my publisher is offering the book from now until March 31 for only $10, shipped! You can purchase here for the special $10 promotion.

Fantastic Friday: Hope

I just happened upon a news story about a dog that was presumed dead for weeks–found safe and sound.

It’s a timely reminder about the importance of hope, even if a situation seems rife with despair.

In the nine months leading up to the birth of our daughter, we noticed that Yoda seemed drawn to my belly, and the baby seemed to love kicking him from inside. In fact, Yoda used to move his head from side to side on my stomach, and the baby’s kicks seemed to follow.

Yoda and the Unborn, playing a game of kick-the-corgi

Yoda and the Unborn, playing a game of kick-the-corgi (excuse the look of exhaustion on my face!)

I thought he would be fast friends with the baby from the moment she came home. But that was not the case. After a traumatic few days leading up to his human sister’s birth, Yoda seemed terrified of the Six-Pound Terror.

At first, Yoda would barely stay in the same room as the baby. He preferred hiding in corners and darkness.

Leia is watching over the baby, but Yoda is hiding all the way in the way in the corner.

Leia is watching over the baby, but Yoda is hiding all the way in the way in the corner.

In a time that should be filled only with joy, I felt a little sad. Yoda, my favorite buddy, my best friend, was afraid to be in the same room with me. I didn’t think things would ever be the same with him, and I wondered if Yoda would ever be happy again.

Yoda: "I won't come any closer to the Terror."

Yoda: “I won’t come any closer to the Terror.”

And it continued to be a sad situation. Literally, all the baby did for weeks was–sleep. How, I wondered, could that be so horribly terrifying to a dog five times her weight? I researched tips on how to introduce dog and baby, but nothing seemed to work. I wondered if I’d ever get my old Yoda back.

But as the weeks (yes, weeks) passed, he snuck closer and closer to the little “terror.”

Slow progress.

Slow progress. Yoda: “I still won’t touch the thing.”

But as soon as her little baby arm would flail anywhere near him, Yoda scattered to the corners of the house. Until one day, when all hope seemed lost…

One of the smoke detectors upstairs had just started chirping, and I decided I would fix it later. I was tired from sleepless newborn baby nights and sad at Yoda’s lack of affection toward the baby (and, by extension, me, since baby was practically attached to me for those few weeks).

Of course, there’s no noise more frightening to my corgis than a chirping smoke detector. I have no idea why. The actual smoke alarm went off twice in our house, and the corgis didn’t react one bit. But the little chirping sends them into a frenzy. They tremble for hours afterward and hide in the basement or whatever dark corner they can find. And if they can find me, they hide on me, too.

So of course as I was sitting there with the baby, the two corgis come barreling down the stairs to find me on the couch in front of the fire. Leia took a leaping run to my right, sitting so she was touching my leg but not touching the baby. Yoda took a running leap to my left and soon found himself touching–dun, dun, dun!–the baby’s foot!

!!!

But the chirping smoke detector is exponentially more terrifying to the world’s scarediest fraidy-dog that he took no heed of the baby, instead drawing comfort from the physical contact. When the dogs settled down many moments later, Yoda realized he was touching the baby. I saw the realization come into his eyes, and I fully expected him to scatter.

But he didn’t. Instead, he sniffed the breath coming from the softly-sleeping child. Then he curled up, allowing his paw to touch her foot. I didn’t want to move or make a big deal out of it, lest the progress fall by the wayside.

But the next day, when the smoke detector was well fixed, I asked Yoda to “sit.” I wanted to hold the baby on him so that she’d be sitting on his fairy saddle. I would be right there in case anything happened, and maybe Yoda would take comfort in that. And, finally, an entire month into the baby’s existence, Yoda made his peace.

Riding the fairy saddle.

Riding the fairy saddle.

Now, one of his favorite things to do is a game called “get petting from the baby.” Yoda, the gentle “giant” (well, compared to a tiny baby, anyway), allows her to grab his ears, eyelid, fur, you name it… I think she may grow to be his new favorite person in the world.

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And as long as the two of them are happy, that’s a title I’m willing to give up–for the both of them.


CORGICAPERS1_VMULLER_FINALAll three Corgi Capers books are now out for Kindle! They’re part of the Kindle lending library, so if you are subscriber, you can read them for free. If you’ve bought the paperbacks from Amazon, you’re also entitled to a free copy of the corresponding Kindle edition. Haven’t read them yet? They’re only $2.99 each and available here:

Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive for Kindle

Corgi Capers: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook for Kindle

Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls for Kindle

Authors love book reviews! If you review (or have reviewed) any of the Corgi Capers books, email me the link to your Amazon.com review, and I will send you a coupon code for a free Kindle version of the next book in the series!

 

A Corgi Thanksgiving

May there always be food for you to mooch,
Always a warm bed fit for a pooch,
Always a human to hold you tight
In the darkness of winter and blackness of night.
May there always be squirrels for you to chase,
A bird in the garden, or a kitty to race,
And always a smile and wiggly tail
Because you love everything–and are grateful for it all!
Love life like we do, be always amazed
And thankful for each moment for the rest of your days!

Thanksgiving

Fantastic Friday: Bringing Joy

I heard just yesterday the question, “Why isn’t there any good news?” It’s true that new media seem to play up the negative stories and skip over the happy ones. What’s that expression? Blood sells, right? As 9/11 approaches each year, it seems many of us grow gloomy as well, so I thought I’d share an article I’ve been saving since last month.

I enjoyed coming across an article inAugust’s Parade magazine about acting dogs (Acting Like a Dog), and you can imagine I was thrilled to read about two corgis, Mimi and Marco, who were surrendered by their owner when they were 9 and 10 years old. Sent to a rescue organization, they were placed with Bill Berloni, an animal trainer, who placed them in a Broadway show called The Audience, a play about Queen Elizabeth II. The two “undeniable crowd pleasers” dash across the stage, thrilling audience members and are themselves rewarded with mozzarella cheese, their preferred treat.

The article continues, discussing dogs that Berloni trains, including the Chihuahua starring in Legally Blonde: The Musical, which he adopted from a shelter.

I always sort of dread when September 11 rolls around on the calendar. Like any of us old enough to remember the day, I will never forget where I was when I heard, and I will never forget the tense moments afterwards, glued to the television and unsure of the future—or the serious repercussions the day had on our society at large. It’s good to be reminded that there are positive stories out there such as the stories people like Berloni create every day—of abandoned lives turning into talent that can bring joy to thousands.

The news story brought me a smile and is one more reason we should all aspire to consider small ways we can bring joy to others—in other words, to live more like a dog!

 

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