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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!

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The Moving Chronicles (Part 2)

The dogs continue to think “something’s up.” Their kitchen is quickly becoming a cardboard castle, with boxes stacking up. Yoda follows me around. Even in the 90 + degree heat wave we’re having, he sits on my lap as often as possible (yes, even outdoors) to make sure I don’t go anywhere.

When the movers come, and when we first get to the new house, I’m going to have to close him in his crate, where he feels most safe in the world (aside from on my lap).

In other news, I have been researching invisible fences. The house comes with an invisible fence, which I think might be a better option than putting up chicken wire around the fence of a five-acre lot. It looks like the key to training dogs is to instill in them a sense of fear of the fence–to lead them up to the fence (marked by flags for now) but then lead them away with a sense of urgency or even fear in one’s voice. Since Yoda is afraid of everything, this might not be too hard to do.

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The corgis in “feral mode”

The corgis in "civilized mode"

The corgis in “civilized mode”

 

I just wonder… the corgis sometimes go into “feral mode.” When they see an animal or hear a dog getting agitated, they go nuts, sometimes attacking each other or biting on their leashes if they are on a walk, and for a while they stop listening to me. I look in their eyes, and they are in full-on hunter/herder mode. Then, as quickly as it started, they look back at me and become civilized again. But I wonder: if they go into “feral mode” with an invisible fence, is even the threat of a correction from the collar enough to stop their natural instinct?

Has anyone had experience with this? I’ve heard nothing but good things about invisible fences (in terms of keeping dogs confined–not keeping other things out), but I’m skeptical. In any case, I get to try it in about a week!

The Moving Chronicles (Part 1)

For the past few months, my husband and I have been packing up the house in preparation for an upgrade. Moving day is approaching, and–well–the corgis have started to notice.

It started the day I packed up six boxes of kitchenware. I stacked these near the kitchen table, and Yoda knew something was up immediately. When I came back from work, he ran to his crate and looked at me with that “Lassie” look–letting me know he had something to tell me. Well–his crate had all kinds of puke in it (I will spare you a picture). The fact that he threw up in his crate told me just how upset he is about the house being packed up–he goes into his crate (which I leave open for him during the day) when he is afraid or tired. And he has thrown up for less upsetting things before (did I mention Yoda is afraid of everything?).

Since then, Leia has been overjoyed, hiding behind boxes and finding new and exciting sleeping nooks.

Leia finding a cozy sleeping nook among the boxes.

Leia finding a cozy sleeping nook among the boxes.

 

Yoda has been more hesitant. He’s been following me everywhere, and he’s even being clingy with “his friend,” as I call my husband to him. Normally, he is hesitant with my husband, but as the picture below demonstrates, he’s just fine being cuddly (it was such a rare occurrence, I had to snap a poorly-lit picture from my cell phone to capture the moment!).

Yoda cuddling

A rare moment–Yoda cuddling with someone other than me!

Other than that, my biggest challenge as of now is keeping the corgis from eating all the cardboard boxes. I wonder if other dogs like eating cardboard as much as mine. I try to stop them, of course, but I can’t watch them all the time. I snapped this picture while the corgis were innocently sitting on the cardboard boxes, but the temptation must have been too much. As soon as I returned to the kitchen to pack, they had started pulling off chunks of cardboard to eat!

"All quiet for now--but as soon as she puts down her camera and resumes packing, we're eating this cardboard!"

“All quiet for now–but as soon as she puts down her camera and resumes packing, we’re eating this cardboard!”

I’ll be back with more updates soon, as I’m sure the challenges of moving with two dogs will continue to present new opportunities to share!

How the Corgis Found Their Person

In the novel Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, the Hollinger family finds their new pets after a series of seemingly-random occurrences. But as wise Grandpa Pickwick tells them, a coincidence is often more than it seems. My own life serves as inspiration for that bit of wisdom, as the day my husband and I found our two corgis, many things happened serendipitously. And in my mind, that’s just another word for Fate.

For Christmas 2008, my husband had wrapped up a little piece of paper stating that I had his blessing to get a dog. I am not one to cry, but I teared up a little at the gift. It had been a battle years in the making, with me constantly asking for a dog and never being told “yes.” Each Christmas prior to 2008, all I asked for was permission to get a dog, and each year that request had been denied. In 2008, I had given up, so the gift came as a surprise.

On Saturday, February 7, 2009, the movie Coraline had just been released. Normally, my husband and I don’t see movies in the theatres right away—we wait a few weeks to avoid the crowds. But I wanted to see the movie so badly that I just couldn’t wait. We went to an early show all the way in Tysons Corner—cheap matinee pricing, comfy seats, and a huge mall to boot. Still, there were plenty of closer theatres we could have chosen. Additionally, we went to a relatively early morning show even though there was a later one we could have attended.

The deal, as usual, was that I would drive to the theatre, and my husband would drive home. We left the mall in no particular hurry. Neither of us had eaten yet, and we planned on stopping for lunch on the way home. But contrary to normal, my husband convinced me to drive home. When he drives back from the movies, I usually put the passenger seat all the way back and stretch out until we get home. If my husband had been driving, I would have been happily stretched out in the passenger seat, and fate would have passed me by.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, I was driving.

“Wasn’t it cute how there were so many dogs in the movie?” I asked.

In the film, there is a scene where an entire theatre is filled with dogs.

My husband groaned. He is not, nor has he ever been, a dog lover.

“Don’t worry,” I reminded him. “Even though you told me I could get a dog, I promised I wouldn’t actively search for one. I know you don’t want one, so unless one slaps me in the face, I’m not going to look.”

Little did I know these were my famous last words.

I resumed my mindless driving. As usual, Route 7 was littered with a barrage of signs, each advertising something or other. Trying to keep my eyes on the road, I ignored them. But there was something up the road that was so out-of-place that it jarred me from my driving. A woman with signs under her arm was hammering something into a telephone pole. It was only the strangeness of it that made me look at the sign.

And that’s when my heart skipped a few beats. CORGI PUPPIES FOR SALE, the sign read.

“Did you see that?” I asked my husband.

The look on his face told me he had.

“You’d better turn around,” he mumbled. “

Really?” I squeaked in disbelief.

“I told you you could get a dog, didn’t I?”

I turned around and hurried up the driveway.

“That was fast,” a woman said as I jumped out of the car. “My daughter didn’t even finish putting up all the signs yet.”

I realized how perfect my timing had been. Literally, if we had left the mall ten seconds earlier, the sign would not have been up yet. If I had sped through one yellow light, or driven just slightly faster, the sign wouldn’t have been up yet. Come to think of it, if I had been much slower, the woman would have been finished hammering in her sign, and I probably would have ignored it along with all the other signs littering the road. It was literally perfect timing.

“Remember,” my husband said, “purebred corgis are expensive. We’re just looking. We’ll only buy one if the price is right and you like their personalities.”

I nodded, swallowing over a lump in my throat that told me they’d be priced beyond our range. Luckily I was wrong. The woman selling the dogs had two adult corgis at home, and her female had become pregnant unexpectedly. She was trying to sell the puppies before the new liter arrived.

There were four dogs left in the liter. I had wanted a female, but the only one in the liter was wild. She wouldn’t stay still for me and only quieted when my husband held or pet her. So instead, we asked about their personalities and selected the most mellow puppy, a male.

But on the way to the car, my husband stopped. “Do you think we should get two?” he asked.

“What?” I thought I must have misheard.

“I mean, they can keep each other company while we’re at work,” he muttered. I couldn’t believe my ears. And of course I didn’t object.

Our choice for the second puppy was a no-brainer: the only female of the liter practically jumped into the arms of her favorite person, my husband.

When we found them, the puppies were old enough that their personalities were well-established from the start. Yoda, the Fraidy Cat, cried as soon as we pulled into our garage. He yelped and ran under the car, hiding despite our coaxing. Meanwhile, his curious and rambunctious sister Leia had already circled the car twice, exploring all the smells in her new garage. And it’s been an adventure ever since.

There is much in life that is beyond our control. There are some things we just have to accept, and there are battles we fight never really knowing whether we’ll win in the end. But amidst all the struggles of life, it’s nice to know that there are events out there that coincide perfectly. Like a trip to the movies. Events that make it seem like a benevolent power is pushing us toward our destinies. After all, as Grandpa Pickwick likes to say, I’ve been around long enough to know that a coincidence is often more than it seems.

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