Better Get Out of the Way!

Imagine a Sherman tank about 18 inches tall running full speed with no one at the controls. Now imagine that it rolls directly at your legs and you can’t get out of its way fast enough. That’s a bulldog on the high setting. You don’t have to worry about moving your legs. They will take care of that for you.

Dodging a barreling bulldog is good practice for maintaining balance. Of course, it helps immensely if you see them coming. Or hear them coming. When several bullies get to galloping, well, just think about a stampede in an old Western movie. Turn the volume down a little bit and you’ve got the idea. Oh, and like in the old movies, if they’re headed in your direction, RUN!

Our dogs are happy when they are running. They don’t mean to take my legs out from under me or bowl me over. They don’t mean to stomp on my feet or cause me trouble. Still I had better pay attention and I had better get out of the way. Even if they put on the brakes, they slide. Alertness is a price we all pay for living in a fast-paced world.

It’s not cowardice to move out of the path of a runaway bulldozer. Or bulldog.

Proverbs 22:3 tells us: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on and are punished. “  (KJV) The simple person is not even stupid, but naïve or gullible. How many times have I found myself in that description? Never mind. I’m not going to count them.

It took me a couple of bulldog stampedes and other nasty events in my life, but now my middle name is prudence. (Not really. My middle name starts with a “J”, but you get the idea.)


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Take the Time

I have been a “hurrier” all my life. I rushed through school assignments, rushed to graduate high school, rushed to finish college, and rushed to finish law school.  My focus was forever on the next semester, the next job, the next book, the next hobby, the next anything. Why I tend to be this way I don’t know. I have been in too big a hurry to spend time investigating it.

When my kids were little, I was in a hurry for them to take a nap so that they could hurry and wake up and we could hurry on to the next item on the list of the moment. When I look back over some of those years, there is a blur of activity, even some accomplishments, but the blurry pictures betray the fact that we were traveling though our lives much too fast.

We all have schedules; most of us live in societies tightly ringed by time constraints. Too often though I hear an exaggerated internal clock ticking and words like these come pouring out of my mouth. “I’ve got to go. NOW! Hurry up!” The kids are grown. These words I say to dogs that are living life at a dog’s pace. Why am I in a hurry?

I was in the long quiet sanctum of Doggy Study Hall with Stella. I had been massaging and scratching her back and neck for about 30 minutes, my usual time limit for this part of the day. At last, she relaxed and laid her big old smooshy head against my shoulder. Did it take so long because my internal metronome was counting the beats at too fast a rhythm? Could she feel the stretched tension on my taut timing chain?

Did I learn anything from that session? Perhaps. Some things do take time and attention and there are no shortcuts. Shortcuts breed bad habits.

Whoop! Stella was up again and pawing at me. 0-60 in 8 seconds. So what did I learn from that? Only what I already knew – that bulldogs require more of everything.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

What’s the Magic Word?

Snoopey is the Alpha of the pack, so she is always first to be invited to Doggy Study Hall. She came into the hall one day, laid her head on my lap, and then jumped up and lay down again, unable to settle herself.

She looked me in the eye and made a deep, mellow rumble from her throat through her barely open lips. Ruum. Ruum. Ruum. She waited and then repeated it, pausing between each Ruum. Never had I heard her or any of the bulldogs make that type of noise. By the third round of Ruum, I was working to translate the bulldoggese into some human tongue. What was she doing? Why this thrumming sound?

Then I realized. I had forgotten to set up the speaker and the music that I had been playing for them. (To be honest, the music is for me, too, and I always get to pick the tracks.) But that would be too odd, I thought, for her to be missing the music and even more odd for a dog to be trying to let me know that she missed it.

So. I tested my theory. I went to my room, got the speaker, turned it on, and started the music. When I sat back down, Snoopey nestled her head on my lap , stopped her Ruum sound, and fell asleep.

Skeptics might point to coincidence as the reason for Snoopey’s sudden silence. I choose to believe that, despite our language barrier, she asked me to bring in the music and asked politely. If she could have added a “please”, I am sure she would have.

What did I learn from this? More of a reminder than a new lesson. Ask and ask politely.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” 

(Matthew 7:7 KJV)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Doggy Study Hall

Quality time is a term that people threw around a bunch when my kids were little. There are 24 hours in every day for everyone and they get filled without effort until the overflow fills up the next day and the next and the next. Soon weeks, months, years have passed and we don’t know what happened to them.

I got to see our dogs every day. I fed them, watered them, cleaned up after them, and talked to them, all of which is fine, but not really fun and not individual to each bulldog. So after a few months, I instituted Doggy Study Hall, a separate playtime for each dog. Yes, it takes time (about 30 minutes each) and it takes energy (mine mostly, as their internal generators seldom slow down).

I take each bulldog by herself down our quiet hallway. I light a scented candle high above their reach and sometimes I set up a speaker and play instrumental music. I sit down on a large beanbag chair that each bulldog has tried to claim with only limited success. A large cushion is available for their use, but what the human has is so much more appealing.

Doggy Study Hall rules are simple:

  1. No stepping, standing, or walking on the human. (Snoopey routinely violates this rule. She still thinks that she is a lap dog.)
  2. No invading any room into which you have not been invited.
  3. No intrusion into the front room at all. There is nothing in there for dogs and it is not a public doggy restroom (though Tiger and Wiggles have tried to turn it into one.)
  4. Dogs may choose their activities– soft toy play, fetch, chew toys, lounging, cuddling with the human, or napping.
  5. Stepping, standing, or walking on the human after 3 warnings may cause expulsion from Doggy Study Hall for that day.
  6. And no chewing, tearing, or eating of any books (even if they look delicious).

At first I thought the dogs had some fun there, relaxed some by being away from the others, and maybe learned to tolerate me a little more. No big deal. As time went on, the excitement level revealed that they had come to expect it. They would run, prance, and dance at the hall door at that time of day. Each one had a favorite activity. Snoopey loved to cuddle and nap. Wiggles loved to play with a big, blue, rubbery chew stick. Tiger cuddled and lay on the cushion, fiddling with the soft toys every so often. Stella loved to be petted and massaged behind her shoulders.

I forget how much special time set aside means to my friends, to my family, and to the LORD. It is actually harder to set up quality time with the people in my life than it is to spend time with the Lord of the Universe. He is always awake. He is almighty. His invitation always stands.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  (Mark 1:35 KJV) If Jesus knew the importance of time apart with the Father, how much more should I realize the importance of quality time with Him?


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Do I Look Foolish?

Stella doesn’t really need to wear a hat to look nice. Truth be told, she did not choose her hat. I found it among some old doll clothing that my daughters left behind when they grew up. I just had to try it on Stella. She humored me and let it stay on her head for, oh, about thirty seconds. A bulldog in a purple church lady hat with flowers and a veil, no less. She even knew better than that. So much for foolishness.

Foolishness. We try to steer clear of it whether in ourselves or others. Not the kind of foolishness that makes us smile or laugh, but the kind that ends up hurting us and others. Once introduced into a group of people, foolishness spreads like a virus. It invades conversations and opinions and the only vaccination against it is a good shot of wisdom. If foolishness is allowed to flourish, like a virus, it will pop up in a totally unexpected place.

People must really enjoy foolishness. We do so love to spread it. Just take a gander at social media.

The Bible teaches us not to be fools, but God can and does use foolish things. (I am glad He does, otherwise, I wouldn’t get much use at all.) “…the foolishness of God is wiser than men…” (1 Corinthians 1:25 KJV) When I account myself wise, knowledgeable, on top of things, and self-sufficient, WATCH OUT! He comes with something foolish to show me just how unwise, ignorant, unsuccessful, and lacking I am without Him. And that is good news. He doesn’t leave me stuck in my own mud pit, believing my own nonsense.

He introduced me to bulldogs – silly, foolish, barrel-bodied bulldogs. A few of the things that they have shown me are:

  1. I can physically handle 50-60 pound dogs with the temperaments and pulling power of tiny bulldozers,
  2. Not everything important has to have a paycheck attached to it,
  3. Sometimes you have to spend a little money and that is not a bad thing if it improves your own life or the life of another, and
  4. Laughter is free.

Not foolish at all.


©2016  H.J. Hill  All Rights Reserved.

Are You Related to Me? Really?

Hello, I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge. I am back. Apparently, when I do not blog, my transcriptionist, the Lady Human, does, so you get her point of view and that may not be entirely accurate. I am not saying that she or any human lies, but they see things differently than dogs do and, if I had to choose between a human and a dog, I would trust a dog. Well, not all dogs. Not Tiger. And probably not Snoopey most days. Okay, let me just say that between a human and a dog, I would trust me.

Allow me to explain my frustration. First, here is my current list of offenders, from most serious to least:

  1. TIGER – yes, still. TIGER! TIGER! Please grow up! I don’t remember acting like you are when I was your age. You may be a teenager, but could you speed it up a little? She is still constantly challenging Snoopey for supremacy. Snoopey’s new tactic is to ignore her, well, about half the time. Lady Human is now bribing Tiger with a treat when she comes in from outside so that she will calm down and not try to fight Snoopey. It’s a good ploy and may be working. Treats are good anytime and I do not object on principal to using them as a bribe. Anything to get a treat. I just don’t want Tiger thinking that she deserves them.
  1. SNOOPEY – She still reacts to Tiger, only a little less now. And she got a new bed that she did not deserve at all. Why? At least mine is prettier.
  1. WIGGLES – She is calm and friendly as usual. But she has become obstinate all of a sudden and will not go right into her crate when the humans have to leave to go to their mysterious places. So she has to be coaxed in and once again Lady Human bribes her with a treat which she in no way merits. (Lady Human gives the rest of us treats at the same time, but that’s beside the point.)
  1. ME – Yes, I am the least offensive this time, least offensive to me anyway. Lady Human seemed annoyed when I was telling Tiger off. I was just trying to help. Maybe I did go on a little too long. And loud. The humans do not yet understand my dialect so they probably didn’t understand that I was lecturing Tiger on good behavior. The humans need to work on their language skills.

I expect more from my family members. Snoopey is my sister. Wiggles is my half-sister. Tiger is my niece. Have you ever heard of humans having trouble with their family members? I think not. What? Wait, my transcriptionist is saying something. Oh…well, that is something to think about.


Stella the Queen of the Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill  All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Stir the Boiling Pot

Hot words start fights. To confirm that, check out Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”  (King James Version) That applies to dogs, too.

Tiger snorted her displeasure at having to wait for her focused attention session with me. She started snorting because Stella was free. Her envy against Stella knew no bounds until her envy of Snoopey and dominance competition with her kicked Stella aside. She has been snooting against both of them.

Tiger was in her crate with her food and water because she won’t behave around the other bulldogs. She manipulates Stella by barking and snorting and silly, peaceable Stella runs around like mad trying to figure out what to do. Stella flopped down in front of me, upside down with her tongue lolling out to the side. Stella is a lover, not a fighter, well, not a good fighter anyway.

Snoopey, not to be left out of any disagreement, voiced her complaint with her whining bulldog vocabulary, working her petulant lower lip up and down beneath the flopping umbrella of her expansive cheeks. Silent Stella only barks and vocalizes once in a blue moon. Is there another one of those coming up soon? Sweet, amenable Wiggles sat and watched. She seldom offers an opinion. When she does, it is at full volume and she gets the last word.

Tiger always snoots her impatience before the loud, incessant barking starts. It is amazing to me that she can blow that much air through her nose without blowing snot all over everybody. I am told that the bloody battle that almost claimed her life started as a fight over food. I don’t know. Tiger does love her food, but food or not, the fight was over territory. The other dog protected her ground and Tiger protected hers. Tiger lost.

Pretty soon after the barking begins, everyone (by everyone, I mean every non-human one) adds their own bulldog version of two cents. It is a conversation, but not a polite one.

I have avoided a great many useless fights over the years by learning (the hard way) when to speak and when to keep my mouth shut. The other thing I have learned is not to spew angry, spiteful words in reaction to someone else’s venom. Those two lessons have saved me a lot of grief and a lot of late apologies that never would have set things to right anyway.

Now if we can just get the dogs to learn even part of that lesson.

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 KJV


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved




Dog Ruminations (or Chewing Things Over)

The Miscellanea of Living with Dogs

Dogs are not ruminants, that is they do not ruminate because they do not have a rumen in their stomachs. Without a rumen, their food (the plant kind) does not  ferment and then regurgitate into their mouths for further processing the way a cow’s  or a goat’s does , for example. The word “ruminate” comes from the Latin word ruminare meaning “to chew over again”.

The meaning of rumination for humans is quite different, though we would do better to chew our food more thoroughly the first time. I have been ruminating about the way dogs think – or don’t think. When I watch them, I get a sense that there is something going on inside their heads at least once in a while.

For instance, I think that dogs don’t really care about birthdays. They just want the food and the excitement. Any day will do. I’ve pretty much adopted that attitude myself over the years. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate them. Any excuse for a party. That’s what most dogs would say.

I do think that dogs wonder at times how we humans move through the world. At least that is the look they have on their faces. “How do they do it? They seem to know where they are going.”  If only they realized how wrong they are and how clueless we are. No, better for them not to know.

What are dogs thinking about when they stare into space and nothing else is going on? Are they daydreaming? Or are they trying to figure out what that weird thing is that is sitting on the piano?

How do dogs measure productivity? Just by doing what they are asked to do? When they save someone, do they respond, “I have simply done my duty.” Probably. That is the attitude we are to have as well.

“…when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”  Luke 17:10 KJV

I hear the news, public or personal, and I stare into a puppy’s tiny eyes, and realize that they will never understand any of what is going on and I am happy for them. Their world is focused on us and on one moment at a time. And on food and toys and games, of course.

When I am tense, they sense my tension. I wish I were strong enough not to share it with them or anyone else. So. I play calming dog music, recorded at the right decibel and rhythm to calm dogs. It may be working. I feel a little calmer already.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved


Snoopey is no longer the sad sack she once was. Still not Miss Happy-Go-Lucky, she is enjoying life more. We still have a lot to work on. She barks too much and at the wrong times, but she also barks at exactly the right times. She uses her good ears and her good sense of when something is wrong and alerts everyone.

My uneducated guess is that Snoopey did not receive any real socialization in her early days and now that she is grown, she is having to play catch-up and is having to work to get rid of some bad habits. Events that appear not to phase the other dogs send Snoopey into a downcast mood.

For example, she accidentally spilled her food all over the floor of her crate one morning. Everybody in this house has spilled food, human and dog, at one time or another. Stella spills her food into her bed deliberately. At first I thought she was knocking the bowl over by accident, but no, that’s exactly what she wants to do and she moves the bowl just right so that the food tumbles into the corner of her bed. Snoopey did not mean to spill hers.

Of all our dogs, Snoopey is the least likely to eat food that has been spilled on the floor. Wiggles is a vacuum cleaner. Tiger trots around hoping to find a treat, even if it is not her special food brand for her skin condition. Stella will pick up a choice morsel here and there.

Immediately Snoopey started to cover the mess, nosing her ground sheet over the food. While Stella goes back throughout the day and evening to munch on her intentionally dumped food in its soft corner, Snoopey showed no sign that she was going to get back to hers. Frankly, she looked embarrassed.

Covering up the mess made it go away for Snoopey. If you can’t see the mess, it doesn’t exist, right? Mess? What mess? We’ve all done it. Just cover it up. See! No mess no more! Only the mess is still there and someone is going to have to clean it up.

Bottom line, I cleaned up the spilled food. I did not make the mess, but I was the one in the best position to clean it up.

That’s what Love does. Love cleans up messes He didn’t make, even the ones that we have hidden under ground sheets. That’s what the Lord does for us when we let Him.

“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8 KJV

God is not interested in our being embarrassed. When we come to Him, He has us covered, and when He is finished, there won’t be a mess.

Snoopey got her fresh bowl of breakfast and she did not spill it. In fact, I don’t think she has spilled a bowl since that day.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved



Heart Enlargement

How large is my heart? Not the blood pump in my chest but the essence of me. For quite a while my life has been played out on a very small stage and that has been pointed out to me by my reactions to the arrival of the bulldogs. I had no room within me to accept even one of them when Stella came. I looked at her and judged her too big, too smelly, too ugly. I knew nothing about bulldogs or their personalities, their affectionate nature, their silliness, their gift for making me laugh. And sigh. She was too big for my small heart.

No one wants to think of themselves as too small. We are not tight-fisted or stingy. No, we are thrifty, frugal, practical, and good stewards. We are not hard hearted. We are reserved, stoic, perhaps dispassionate, but that can be good, right? We use all manner of euphemisms for ourselves and speak the truth only about others.

What if God looked on us the way we look at others? What if He valued us only as much as we value those around us? (Uh-oh. That’s a scary thought.) Thankfully, He is kinder than that. I needed to enlarge my capacity to love and I believe He is using these dogs for a reason – there is nothing they can do for me in this big, cold, practical world. They can’t buy me a car or give me a job or make my breakfast or clip my toenails. They can only be what they are – dogs. I take care of them and they can’t pay me back. Not with money or services or stuff anyway. No quid pro quo. They give only what they can.

Bit by bit, dog by dog, my heart has been expanding.

In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said that we should specifically invite people to our banquets who cannot repay us. There is no loss to us in that bargain.

How much room do I have in my heart for all these dogs or anyone or anything else? I asked that question before the birth of my second child. How large is my heart? Do I have room to accept one more? A neighbor told me the truth. God enlarges your heart.

“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 KJV


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved


Don’t Get in Your Own Way

Dogs interfere with their own progress on a regular basis. When I go to let Wiggles out of her crate, she routinely puts her paw on the door and holds it in place, not meaning to, just trying to help. She doesn’t realize that she is thwarting her own desire by getting too involved.

When I stand back and the crate door is unlatched, she stares at me as though I am keeping her in. All she has to do is let go of the door and it glides open.

Another routine block to progress is when I try to open a regular door and find bulldogs congregating around my ankles like cement blocks on four legs. The door won’t open. My legs can’t move except vertically. The dogs stare, wondering why the line for the bathroom is so long when the delay is caused by their own eager barrel bodies pressing against the door.

Unwittingly, they blockade themselves from the very object of their desires, and then they look at me with pitiful eyes that ask, “Why are you against us?” When they do budge enough for the door to be wedged open, they tumble through it like a cluster of clowns spilling out of a clown car at the circus.

When to take a step, when to make a move, when to speak, when to stay silent – we face these decisions every day. We rush forward when we should wait. We put our hands and mouths into situations that were never our business. We try too hard and throw stumbling blocks in our own paths.

Fear of losing out drives us to desperation. Overwhelming desire urges us to press and grab for what we think we absolutely must have right now.

In the Bible, James 4:2-3 speaks about our “lusts” (more modern word “desires”) and the problems we cause ourselves by pursuing them the wrong way. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

 Dogs’ desires are pretty obvious: food, water, shelter, exercise, affection, structure, safety, all basics. Human desires extend beyond the basics and our abilities to pursue our desires exceed what dogs can do for themselves. And that’s where we can get tripped up. There is a whole lot that we can pursue for ourselves flat out. We just have to be careful what the object of our pursuit is and that we don’t fall over our own feet.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

That First Step

I placed a new bed pad that I had made into Snoopey’s crate. I am not an expert seamstress or dog bed designer so it puffs up high on the ends. I thought she might like that for an extra head rest and she does when she sleeps. The only problem shows up when it’s time to come out of the crate. I open the door and she hesitates, lifting one paw high, tapping the air with it, unsure that she can make that first step.

Eventually she does. She steps over the threshold and onto the old familiar solid floor. There was really no choice. Outside the crate is freedom and fresh air. And the bathroom. Going back into the crate doesn’t hold the same challenge for her though. Same crate, same pad, same puffy end, different attitude. Maybe it’s just easier to overcome obstacles when you want to go to bed.

That first step out is the crucial one. Without it, nothing else follows. She doubted her footing because the situation was new and she had to step a little bit higher than she was used to doing. Once she summoned the courage and took that step, the whole world opened up.

First steps can scare you. What if I take this step and fall flat on my face? Won’t that be embarrassing? Won’t that hurt? What if I get a bloody nose?

What if we sit in a crate all of our lives? What if we let that first step stymie us into never trying at all? We may have to pick our feet up higher and deliberately plant our steps on the ground outside our safe zone. By and large, the ground will be solid enough to support us.

And what if we do fall flat on our faces and bloody our noses? Wash it off and get an ice pack. Then take another step.

“For Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.   Psalm 56:13 KJV



©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

Keep Your Eyes Where They Belong

The feud between Tiger and Snoopey has involved Stella and every one of the dogs thinks that they have a right to be offended by anything or by nothing at all. The eyeballing starts it.

“Are you looking at me?”

“No, it’s you who’re looking at me.”

“Don’t look at me!”

“Hey, Mom, she’s looking at me!”

“Now you’re looking at Stella.”

“So? I can do what I want!”

“So can I. If I want to look at you, I can.”

“You’re not the boss.”

“ I most certainly am.”

“Shut up!”

“No, you shut up! Hey, lady! She won’t shut up!”


The bulldog truce has been broken. And why? Tiger wanted to be the Alpha when Snoopey already was. She started giving Snoopey the stink eye. Instead of paying attention to the human in the room who was the real Alpha, Tiger became obsessed with what Snoopey was doing. She began protesting when Snoopey received head pets first (snorting and barking – dogs don’t carry signs or where T-shirts with slogans). And then, of course, Snoopey couldn’t let that pass uncorrected and Sister Stella had to put in her two cents (which are really only worth about half that).

The result? Strife. Dissension. Disruption. Loud barking. Snarling. Snapping. Thank God no one has gotten hurt. Tiger was already dog aggressive and the new phase has not helped. The only solution for me thus far has been to put Tiger on the leash when she comes in from outside and walk her calmly to her crate, placing myself between her and Snoopey. That has worked. The funny thing is Tiger seems almost relieved that she has no opportunity to challenge Snoopey.

Humans do this a lot, too. We get our eyes on someone and start wondering why they get so much attention, or the promotion, or the raise, or the “easy life” and we don’t pay attention to the Lord and keep following Him.

Jesus had to confront Peter about that very attitude after His resurrection. Upon receiving some news from Jesus about his own future, Peter turned his attention to John and wanted to know what was going to happen to him.

“Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.”  (John 21:22 KJV)

I have gotten my eyes off the Lord and onto other people, either following them or wondering why they seemingly were not suffering the same difficulties I was. Those thoughts fall into that “none of my business” category that should be getting larger, not smaller. My eyes should be on the One Who knows me better than I know myself. He is the One Who holds my future.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

Stella’s Blog – Day 2 – Me & My Big Mouth

Hello again. My name is Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, but if you have been reading my blog, you already know that. I am letting my lady human be my transcriptionist again this time. My last blog post looked weird, even to me, so I fired her. (That’s what the humans call it. It sounds so violent. Really it just means she wouldn’t be typing my blog posts anymore. She didn’t even get treats for doing it so she didn’t care.)

But then I asked her back because, to be honest, no one else would type for me and I don’t know how. Because I can’t read. And I can’t type because my toes won’t flex enough to hit those tiny black squares one at a time.

Here is my list of bulldog offenders with #1 being the worst:

  1. This one is a surprise – See below.
  2. Tiger: The only surprise here is that she is #2 and not #1. She started picking fights with Snoopey every time she walked by Snoopey’s crate and all poor Snoopey was trying to do was have a nice snooze.
  3. Snoopey: OK, I saw the whole thing. Snoopey was minding her own business when Tiger looked over and…um, well, see below.
  4. Wiggles: Sweet Wiggles. Smart Wiggles. She has the common dog sense to stay out of the fights of others.

By now, you have no doubt guessed who the #1 offender was. Yes, it was I, good old Stella.

I saw Tiger eyeballing Snoopey and I charged into action, well, not action, but lots of loud barking and stamping. I sounded great, really ferocious. My lady human had to shout to be heard when she said for me to stop and she had to remove Tiger who immediately went to snarling at who? Me? No! At Snoopey!

When I looked up at my lady human, she seemed disappointed and surprised. Oh, I guess I started that one, didn’t I? All I wanted to do was stick up for my sister, Snoopey, even though she doesn’t always stick up for me. And, I admit, I wanted to sound all tough and fierce. I’m not as big as Tiger and Snoopey. But I’m no coward. I can fight, too! But I don’t really want to. What I really like are naps and treats and soft toys.

So I didn’t think what might happen. I stepped into somebody else’s business and stirred up a fight between two others that might not have happened if I had just kept my big mouth shut.

This is my confession. This time I was #1.

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”  1 Peter 4:15 KJV

Wow, that’s a pretty rough crowd.

The End. Signed, Stella


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

You Aren’t the Boss of Me!

Stella barked. Tiger put her up to it.

“What was that? You don’t bark, Stella. Did Tiger tell you to do that? ‘Act like a dog, Stella! Chase the cat, Stella!’

Ever since Tiger got to feeling better, she has been encouraging Stella to develop the fine art of cat chasing. Mind you, for months before Tiger arrived, Stella and our cat, Moon, lived side by side on cool but peaceable terms. Stella would trot past Moon. Moon would hiss, demanding her space (which amounted to wherever she was, wherever she wanted to be, whenever she wanted to be, for as long as she wanted to be). Stella would cast a sidelong glance and keep trotting past, her tongue jangling and bouncing. Never a snap, never a growl, never a bark.

To be clear, Tiger bears the cat no ill will. Many mornings I find a relaxed Moon sitting right beside a complacent Tiger. But Tiger has a little bit of the instigator in her. When she thinks things are too quiet, too calm, too boring, well…there’s always Stella. Poor, gullible Stella.

Tiger stands at strict attention, pointing her nose in the cat’s direction, usually the couch. She snorts and rumbles. Stella darts her head and stubby body around in short, jerky twists until she sees the object of Tiger’s attention. And then who charges the cat? Not Tiger.

Moon the cat dodges Stella’s assault with little effort, except for that one day when Stella managed to chase her all the way into the kitchen and cornered her against the pantry door. It was a tactical blunder on Moon’s part. She let herself get blocked from all of her hidden retreats and Stella pursued.

Even then Stella didn’t bite her. She didn’t press down. For a couple of seconds, Moon had to endure a sloppy wet mouth the size of Rhode Island and a residue of bulldog slobber on her fur, but she was scared and I was scared – for them both. Sure enough, before I could pull Stella away, Moon lashed out with a claw and scratched Stella just below her lower eyelid. No eyeball injury, thank the Lord, but frightening.

Stella milked the incident for all it was worth, blinking and looking sad. Stella did not need another reason to play the sad face card. It worked. She garnered extra attention and sympathy (although she caused the fight by going straight for the cat and cornering her) and it got her some eye ointment which she fought.

“That wasn’t so fun, was it?” I told her. I’m always telling her things like that. “Why do you listen to Tiger?”

“You know how it is. Something seems like a good idea until you realize that you are in too far and you’re afraid to turn around and get out of it.” Annoyed, she blew out her cheeks, then pranced up to me and raised her paw.

“I am not mad at you, smooshy face. I don’t want any of you to get hurt. I wish you understood. Some of your friends are not always your friends.”

I need to remember that.

“…a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20 KJV


© 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

The Dirtiest Word – “NO”

Snoopey, why do I have to use the word “no” with you more than anyone else? One of my children was like that, too. Maybe every so many kids and dogs, one comes along who thinks that they know better than everybody, one for whom the word “No” is not translatable in any language.

“No” is a word that sets borders. “No” is a good word though most dogs and people don’t look at it that way. “No” gets ignored too often when it is the right word at the right time.

At first, I wondered if Snoopey’s hearing were impaired. She quickly disabused me of that idea. Her hearing is excellent. She picks up distant sirens, vehicles in the alley, and people at the front door before the bell rings. She simply doesn’t think the word “No” applies to her.

I invited her into the driveway while I did dog food redistribution in the garage and she struck up a conversation with the neighbor’s dogs. Not a “Hey, I didn’t realize y’all were over there” chat, but a wild back and forth running bark fest up and down the length the fence. Barking, galloping, whirling, barking, galloping, whirling.

Snoopey slid to halt and pressed her big, wide, wet muzzle against the fence slats at the level of reinforced 2x4s across the bottom. She sniffed one board and then another. On the 3rd spot, the bulldog in her showed up. She ripped at the bottom of the board with power vise lower jaw. Just one pull splintered the bottom of the board. I grabbed her collar, forcing her away from the fence. I clipped on the leash. It took my full force to move her. When I got her the fifteen feet to the driveway, she finally broke her concentration and stopped the game. She panted so hard you would have thought she had been on a mile run. Once inside, she fell asleep like a stone. I rested my strained muscles. Weight lifting is all well and good, but exercise weights don’t wrestle with you.

I lost count of the number of times I used the “No” word, all to no avail.

What would have happened had Snoopey managed to get through the fence? Not a picnic, I can tell you that. An all out free-for-all with her and the other dogs as losers.

A lot of people have the wrong idea about the Ten Commandments. They see them as a negative list of “Thou shalt nots” designed to stop our fun when really they are positive warnings of dangers to be avoided, good neighbor safety fences to keep us from causing or receiving harm. When God says “No”, He is protecting and shepherding us, not spoiling our party.

Now if Snoopey would just realize that “No” is not a dirty word.

Reference: Exodus 20:1-17


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

Stella’s Blog – Day 1 – I Am #3

Hello. My name is Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge. Remember me? Perhaps not since I am no longer the center of all attention as I was, as I should be. This is now a true dog ranch. All of us are inside MY house. ALL OF US! How did this happen?

 Misbehavior is rampant. In order of greatest offender to least offensive:

  1. Wiggles: Offense: will not stop barking while saying nothing. She has a bad habit of       repeating herself. Just listen:  “Awwohh? RahRah!  Awoooo? RahRah!”

           RahRah? Twice. What does that even mean? It sounds a little like something I say once                in a while, but if that’s what she means, she is pronouncing it all wrong.

            I like Wiggles. We get along, but there is only so much nonsense you can listen to. Some               days I just want to bark my head off, but I don’t. It’s called self-control. Get some,                         Wiggles!

        2.  Tiger: Offense: still trying to fight all the time. Our humans have to keep her away                        from the rest of us. Good thing. There is a lock on her crate now because she is smart                    and she figured out how to open the door. (But did she have the courtesy to teach me                    the same trick? Nooo!). Make no mistake. I felt sorry for her when she showed up. She                  looked terrible and now she doesn’t trust dogs. I am glad she is all better, but getting                    out of her safe place was how she got into all that trouble to begin with. Also she is a                    teenager. That explains a lot. Lesson to be learned: Don’t jump over fences that are for                your safety and go stomping on somebody else’s ground. And eat your own food.

        3. See below.

        4. Snoopey: Offense: right at this moment, nothing. She is trying to nap and has turned                    away from us to avoid temptation. But she has trust issues, too. She is my sister. I have                her back, but she struts around all sassy like she is the Alpha and that gets on my                            nerves. She may grow up one day and realize that real leaders lead; they don’t show off.

Yes, I know how to count. I did not forget #3. I am #3. Offense: None. I am the Queen and the Queen cannot commit an offense. Why am I not #4 then? Humility, pure and simple.

  “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. “(1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)

P.S. The human put that last part in. I can’t read.

Signed, Stella


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

























Saving Tiger – Part 4

“She looks great!”

The whole veterinary staff grinned when they saw Tiger walk in a week later. Tiger was one of those success stories that remind people not to give up. She favored her leg and wouldn’t put her whole weight on it. The worst wound was still draining a little from a small rift in it, but not at all as horrible as it had been.

The vet was delighted. “Keep doing what you’re doing. She has good range of motion in that leg, but just expect that she will walk with a limp, probably for the rest of her life.”

Expectations are funny old things. They are patched together from what we’ve experienced in the past, what we’ve seen others experience, what we’ve planned, and hope. A glimmer of hope, people say, as though hope is a weak candle flame about to go out. Sometimes hope flares up and spits right in the face of the past. We stretch our faith to hope for a difference and God meets us more than halfway.

Tiger had other issues. The skin on her back was enflamed and broken out and no one could confirm the reason. Not mange, not mites, or maybe it was. The test results said no, but test results could be wrong. Allergies? That would be bulldoggy of her. The skin problems had begun when she was with her previous owner before the attack and she was in a new environment, still with no improvement despite special shampoos and a changed diet. But the leg was still the biggest question.

One night my son brought his shop vacuum inside to work on it. When he turned it on, the screaming whir bolted Tiger to her feet, all four of them. Not one to waste an opportunity, he opened Tiger’s crate and Tiger followed him through the back door, wobbly on the weak leg but moving.

Her leg fought against the whole weight of her body pressing on it. It wasn’t ready to do the job yet. She looked at me with her curled lip exposing one fang of her bulldog underbite as if to ask why didn’t we smart humans know that. After a slow walk around the yard, it looked looser though. Okay, maybe stepping on it wasn’t so bad an idea after all. Maybe the humans were not as dumb as they seemed.

Tiger lived. Tiger healed. Tiger walks and runs and jumps…without any limp.

Hope and faith can be a dangerous combination. You may just get what you are hoping for.

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

Saving Tiger – Part 3

“I can’t even give her 50/50.” The vet’s lead-weighted words dragged on the air in the room. No false hope. I appreciated that. It’s good to know what level you are fighting on. We drove home with Tiger for a long weekend.

My son poured himself into research on the internet. Surely someone else had battled this and won. He had bonded deeply with Tiger during those days and nights of doctoring. When I would be long in bed, he was still up, face to face with her pain and her fight against the enemy organisms that were eating at her body.

“These people say raw honey helped. I have some. I’ll add that and keep up with the hydrotherapy. After all, why not? What is there to lose?”

“Yeah, why not?” I said. “Why give up now?” We had a miracle going. Were we going to give up so easily? It was going to take persistence and patience.  Those require time and time is something we hate to spend, but nothing good comes without it.

He used a strong stream of water from the hose directly on the open wound, then pour raw honey into the hole, and bandage the leg. Three times a day. We saw the pain it caused her, but Tiger never bit us or snapped at us. She kicked a little, but she knew we were trying to help her. Her trust in us flowed from her eyes. Now she wore a Cone of Shame. I think that bothered her more than the treatments, but it kept her from licking the leg and making it worse.

I prayed for her. “She’s already a miracle, Lord.” I talked to Tiger over and over. “You are strong, girl. You are a fighter. We won’t quit. Don’t you quit.” She might not understand my words themselves, but I made my voice carry hope. Dogs understand your tone. But we needed more than hope. We needed a change. And we needed it by Monday.

Nothing changed Friday or Saturday. She still had a fever. She couldn’t put any weight on the leg with the gaping wound.

“Does it look better to you?” my son asked.

“About the same. But not worse.” We put so much pressure on how things look.


After church on Sunday, I ran into my friend, Meg.“Do you pray for animals?”


“Well, we have one that you can pray for. Tomorrow is D-Day.”

And we prayed, standing outside the church building in the open air and we believed that God heard us on Tiger’s behalf, on behalf of His animal, His creation. We asked for a new miracle. Everything is a miracle anyway. I have never created one thing, not the smallest grain of sand, not the tiniest speck of dust. We asked for a miracle – for a dog. Why not?

Sunday afternoon, the change came.

My son called me over when he removed the bandage. “The wound is closing. The hole is much smaller than it was.” It was. The change was dramatic.

When the vet saw it on Monday, her smile returned and she said the only thing she could. “Wow!”

To Be Continued


Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved