Dogs Don’t Have Hands – Thank God!

I truly am grateful that the LORD did not give dogs long fingers and opposable thumbs. Can you imagine the chaos and the competition? If He had done so, those old velvet paintings of dogs playing poker and smoking cigars might have been based on real life.

What brings up this outburst of thanksgiving that dogs have stubby little toes and no manual dexterity to speak of? One or more of our dogs OPENED THE BACK DOOR!

To be clear, the door was shut but not locked. There was no wind, not so much as a breeze. I was the only human awake in the house. There was no banging or sound of pushing against the door, not even horseplay (similar to bulldog play). I was finishing my breakfast in the kitchen when…a clatter, a bump, and the sound of objects falling…

I ran into the den. The door was wide open and there were dogs, dancing. The sounds I had heard were from the door knocking into my shelf by my chair and my pencil case falling over and spilling. Somebody of the canine classification had opened the door.

Now someone may argue, “Oh, you just didn’t close the door well,” which is exactly what my son suggested when he came in to check out the ruckus. But I am careful to close the door fully, complete with the click of the latch, when I let the dogs out into the yard because I don’t want them to wander back into the den alone while I am in another part of the house. They have a habit of strolling around the room, selecting choice human items or furnishings to taste or move or run around with in their big bulldoggy mouths. Closing the door completely is a habit of mine.

So how did they open it? Our patio door has an extended handle instead of a doorknob. I suspect that one of the little boogers stood up on her hind legs and pulled down on the handle with one or two paws. They have seen me do it every day. I watched Tiger almost accomplish the feat a few months ago. But Tiger wasn’t outside this time. That means someone else got a clue and actually did it.


So now I will lock the patio door when the dogs go out. And we will be fine until one of them figures out that piece of the puzzle which is unlikely because God wisely saw fit not to give them hands. Thank You, Lord!

“…marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14 KJV


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


The First Thing is Don’t Panic

Maybe that title should come with an exclamation point. Naw. That’s really the whole issue in this post. Sometimes a crisis (or a perceived crisis) doesn’t need an exclamation point. It may need the light turned up or the volume turned down so you can understand what the matter is or whether there is a matter at all.

Stella, our “queen” bulldog, posted her Monster Alert before she had all the facts. (See Stella’s Blog – Monster Alert – Special Edition from March 29, 2016 for the details from her point of view.) She wasn’t alone in her panic. She was joined in her barking frenzy by the whole crew. Snoopey was actually the first dog to see the “monster”.

I felt sorry for them. I knew that what they saw was no monster, but I could not let them out to show them because my son, a.k.a. the Tall Man, was mowing and spreading diatomaceous earth in the yard and the dogs could not be allowed out there until everything settled. He was wearing goggles and a large breathing filter so that his lungs would not be affected. None of the bulldogs have breathing apparatus.

I’m sure he did appear like a strange creature to them. His head was covered by the equipment and he was running the loud mower.  An insect-headed interloper from a non-bulldog planet. I told them everything was all right. I tried to calm them down. I was telling them the truth. They didn’t believe me. They believed their eyes.

When my son came inside and took off his protective gear, they saw his face. All fear vanished. All barking stopped. All panic ceased.

The dogs’ panic would not have contributed to their response to the monstrous threat had it existed. Getting all wound up doesn’t help any of us answer a challenge.

The key is not to start with panic. Alertness, yes. Observation, yes. Eyes wide open, yes. Maybe even a quick step to safety until the situation is clear. Panic clouds those responses. And I wish they would trust me more. I’m the one who knew what was going on.

Oh, well, I should remember that, too.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”   (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Stella’s Blog – MONSTER ALERT! – Special Edition

It’s me! Stella the Olde English…Oh, I don’t have time to explain all that!! This is an alert! I can barely stop barking long enough to post this! Everybody, watch out!


If you are in the backyard, it is probably too late for you! If you are a bird in the trees, fly away and warn others! If you are a squirrel, climb the nearest tree and jump over the fence! Forget about saving your precious pecans and acorns! Save yourselves! If the monster gets you, I won’t be able to chase you later. If you are a trespassing cat…well, go ahead and hang around and let’s see what happens. No, on second thought, RUN!

The monster walks on two legs like a human. It is wearing dark material like a human, probably so that it can blend into the shadows and hide, and then SPRING OUT at us when we go out to use the bathroom or sniff around and sun ourselves.

The worst part is its head. It has large bubble eyes and a mouth that looks like a bug’s face. It is ugly even by bulldog standards.

Now it has the Tall Man’s loud machine that chops the grass down! Where is the Tall Man when we need him? A monster is pushing a machine around our yard and no one is stopping it. We are all barking our heads off, but Lady Human is just sitting here saying, “It’s all right.”



HORROR! It is reaching up and taking its face off! I can’t look. Yes, I can because I can’t bark with my eyes closed. It is…the Tall Man. It is not a monster after all. The Tall Man was wearing something on his head that covered his face and, all of a sudden, everything is all right, just as Lady Human said. We should have listened to her. She knew.

Now I just feel silly. We had it all wrong. There was nothing to be afraid of. This time.

Very well. Alert cancelled. Never mind.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Can You Smell That?

Stella and I visited The Bomb Fried Pie trailer when it was at RaRa’s Closet in Dallas on Saturday.  They serve a wonderful hot dog wrapped in crispy fried dough with a side of honey mustard. This treat is called a “Bomb Dog” and I make a special point to go and get one when I can. Stella hauled me toward the trailer as though I was not going to be able to make it on my own and besides I was walking too slowly. She forgets that I have two legs to her four.


They treated Stella to a piece of fried bologna and made her day. (I parceled it out to her so she would not eat it all in one swipe though that would have suited her just fine.)

Stella has been to The Bomb Fried Pie trailer before so that may explain her excitement when she jumped out of the car. Maybe she remembered the scent. Bulldogs do not hold a great reputation for nose skills compared to most dog breeds. Their short muzzles impact their breathing and they don’t usually follow their noses as well as others do. Our bulldogs can figure their way around with their noses though and I have been testing Stella on her ability to pick odd smells when we are camping or out and about.

I “let” her lead me back to the car. When she is in bulldog pulling mode, I don’t have much choice. Our leash training has not gone that well. But I did allow her to choose among the parked cars to see if she could find ours by scent. She’s done it before. This time she got close, within a few feet. All she had to do was turn around.

We loaded up, snacked on the Bomb Dog and honey mustard and fried bologna, and I drove to the other side of the building. We walked back to the trailer and RaRa’s and, after a couple of minutes, Stella turned her face in the direction we had come. She couldn’t see our car from where we were, but she appeared to be following her nose again, yep, straight to our vehicle.

There had to be a lot of different scents competing for Stella’s olfactory attention. The delicious odors coming from the fried pies and meats, people scents, dog scents from the other canine visitors, multiple vehicles. But when she focused her nose, Stella didn’t really have any trouble finding out which car was ours. She read her situation pretty well.

So what have I learned from this? Use the talents I have and focus. Being a human, my nose perception is pretty weak, but I’ve been given other gifts. Using them the right way will help me know where I am and where I am going.

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Proverbs 4:25


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog #7 – Sneaky is as Sneaky Does

Hello! I am Stella the Olde English Bulldogge a.k.a.Queen Stella. I have to keep reminding everyone about the queen part. Even my humans have a tendency to forget my status.

And now I will jump right into my List of Offenders for the week, as always from the greatest offender to the least:

  1. Wiggles: This was a hard choice because everyone but me behaved badly all week long. Still Wiggles wins (if this award can be called a win) because she would not leave Lady Human’s shoes alone. If Lady Human wants to keep a pair of outside shoes by the back door, she should be allowed to without Wiggles or anyone else making a toy out of them. Personally, I don’t understand what is so appealing about human shoes, but to each her own.
  1. Tiger AND Snoopey: They tie for second most offensive because they could not settle down and enjoy the high winds. All their barking and turning and whining, really? And they couldn’t let that feud of theirs go even though it is calming down. They still like to get in each others’ faces for a bark fest which gets me to barking and that hurts my ears.
  1. Moon the Cat: She comes in third and was offensive this week. Why? Because CAT! Cats have this annoying way of walking that is smooth and slinky and silent. Why can’t they be normal, like dogs?
  1. Me: I admit it. I don’t like to have my nails trimmed and I gave Lady Human a run for it when she tried. She was sneaky and got 4 of them despite all my flipping and flopping. Then the tall man showed up and they tricked me. She petted my head and neck and got me all relaxed and thinking that nothing of the nail trimming sort was going on and all of a sudden all my nails had been trimmed and it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t even notice. OK. Until next time.

Did I learn anything this week? Yes. Sometimes humans are sneaky. Wiggles is quick and sneaky when she is stealing shoes. Cats are always sneaky. High winds make Tiger and Snoopey irritable and irritating to me, but at least high winds don’t sneak up on you.

My transcriptionist says that I should try saying something nice about the others. Awwww.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Dancing Dogs

I grew up in a denomination that frowned on dancing. The belief was that dancing only promoted temptation to sinful thoughts and, therefore, like buying lottery tickets, might open the door to some seriously wicked stuff.

Me: “But it looks fun.”

Counterpoint: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” Psalm 101:3

Me: “But King David wrote that and he danced before the Lord with all his might. 2 Samuel 6:14.”

Counterpoint: That was King David. And that’s just not us.

I guess the lesson was that kingship hath its privileges and we simply weren’t dancers.

So I never danced, except once at school when we learned square dancing and folk dancing for about four weeks. I was told that was okay because it was school. I never let on how much fun I had and I don’t remember any temptations.

Now I dance when I am alone and only God can see. He doesn’t mind my lack of timing or my clumsiness. Oh, and I dance in front of the bulldogs who are some fine dancers themselves. They jump with both front legs bouncing up and down at the same moment. They prance, lifting their legs high in front of them, one at a time as they scoot forward on their paws.

Stella is the best at prancing. She will jump forward with one leg held stiffly out in front of her and tap the ground every few feet, or she will put her head down and rhythmically beat the floor with alternating front paws as she moves. And she sashays.

Wiggles has a different style. She performs what we call the “comma dance”. When she is really excited and playful, she forms herself tightly into a circle, head toward tail, and dances with her feet near the ground. The only thing is, having the wide girth of a bulldog, she can’t close the circle so she looks like a dancing comma. In that position, she whirls around and around, awaiting our approval before she straightens herself out.

I like dancing. Both of my daughters studied dance. It was good exercise and discipline. And if joyful creatures like bulldogs can do it, I can, too – only not where any humans can see me.

“Let them praise His Name in the dance…” Psalm 149:3


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Shaken and Stirred

The winds have been up for the past several days, gusting to thunderstorm strength at times, flexing anything flexible and cracking a few things that weren’t. A good shaking now and then sorts things out. Loose items get rearranged so they can be picked up and secured. Weak tree limbs lose their places and new growth appears. A strong shaking lets you know a change is coming.

High winds shake the bulldogs, too. Stella was rock-solid as usual, napping and eating and eating and napping. (Is that stability or laziness?)

Tiger, Snoopey, and Wiggles have been at their wits’ end, jumping (more than usual), charging around the yard (more than usual), and staring at the trees and barking. They are tense, agitated, and unable to settle down.

They focus on me as though I have the answer. What is it? When will it end? Probably when the thunderstorms come through tomorrow or the next day, not that thunderstorms are peaceable. At least I have the advantage of access to weather forecasts. I try to calm them down, but they don’t calm down. There are forces working beyond their understanding and they refuse to be comforted.

In Doggy Study Hall yesterday, Snoopey pressed into my side so hard that she almost bowled me over. I wrapped my arms around her. Experts tell us that dogs don’t like to be I hugged, that it goes against their self-defenses and makes them feel uncomfortable. I agree, but Snoopey broke that rule. She sat still and looked at me calmly as I let my arms lay lightly on her shoulders. She didn’t fidget while we were sitting there. The winds continued to blow.

I don’t like getting shaken up. I enjoy calm and peace and stability. Those have been in short supply lately. Everywhere I look, everyone I talk to is experiencing a shaking – changes, alterations, adjustments, some good but some not so good.

After the shaking winds die away, the dogs will resume their stolid bulldog expressions and I will look around at all the things that were knocked loose, but more importantly, at all the things that stayed in place – what remained strong, what lasted.

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear…” Hebrews 12:28 KJV


© 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Doggy Salon – Who Wants a Manicure?

While attending a meeting recently, during a lull in the action, I paid attention to the fingernails of the women sitting near me. Not because fingernail dress-up is a particular interest of mine, but because I realized after I arrived that my own fingernails were carrying a dump truck load of bulldog dirt that I had failed to clean before I left the house. I tucked my fingertips under and glanced around the circle, hoping that someone else had been gardening or tending their own bulldog pack that day and had the same problem. If another woman was there with dirty nails, it would make me feel less special.

One lady had an impeccable enamel job that complemented her outfit; two others wore simple, single color polish, and the lady to my left had short, well-trimmed nails sans polish but also sans dirt. I continued to keep my fingernails out of sight for the rest of the meeting.

When I got home, I cleaned my nails and considered the state of everyone else’s. Three bulldogs needed a trim and that is a purely catch-as-catch-can situation. They despise having their nails fooled with. If I am alone, I try to get it done in Doggy Study Hall because that is a relaxed, one on one environment, but the second that the nail trimmers appear – oh, no.

As a child, I had poodles – Meme (pronounced Mee-mee) and Jolee. They not only tolerated having their nails done, they seemed to enjoy it. We even painted their nails bright colors and they never tried to lick or chew the polish off. They sat patiently while I brushed on the garish color I had chosen. Maybe they understood that I was trying to make them look nice, human style.

But the bulldogs? Tiger and Wiggles pull their feet out of my hands and run. It’s a power play, pure and simple. Stella is more acrobatic in her attempts to avoid nail trimming. She twists, she flips, she flops, she rolls over on her back, jumps up, runs in a circle, flops back down, rolls over again.

The Nails Trimmed Scorecard at the end of one session:

Tiger: 1

Wiggles: 0 (I may have to come up with a clever bribe.)

Stella: 1

At this rate, we will be on a 18-day cycle – one nail trimmed per dog, per day.

As for Snoopey, like the ladies at the meeting, her nails were short and clean. That’s quite a feat for someone who likes to run through mud and doesn’t care if she steps in “it”.

So what is my lesson in this? “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4 KJV

Okay. I’ll try again.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

The Stink Eye

Until about a year ago, I did not know the term “stink eye”, though I have received a bunch in my time and have shot out more than a few myself. Apparently it originates from Hawaiian surfer slang and means a stare of suspicion or doubt, in other words, a dirty look.

I have witnessed Skinnyhead, our top silkie hen, give it to Stella and Stella return the favor in a stare down contest that Skinnyhead usually wins when Stella gets bored with the game. I have seen it from my kids back in the day, from co-workers, from other drivers (and even passengers), and as I mentioned, if I had bothered to pull out a mirror, on any number of days, I walked around with the stink eye toward shoppers at the grocery store, cashiers, my kids back in the day, and even people at church. I might as well admit it. Other people were bound to notice the dirty look on my face even if I didn’t. God certainly knew.

Of all the dogs I have ever known, not one comes close to the perfected stink eye that Snoopey, one of our Olde English Bulldogges, has developed.

Snoopey lives on alert. Her senses are keen, eyes and hearing sharp, and she works her nose better than many bulldogs are able. She is a natural-born watchdog and pack leader, always looking out for the welfare of the others. (Well, not for Tiger’s welfare so much. They are still feuding.)

But…she is suspicious. She casts her stink eye around generously. In fact, she starts in stink eye mode and then switches to her “hi there, nice to see ya” face when she recognizes who it is.

Seldom does she completely relax. I have been petting her and watched as she cocked her eyes over to check on what Tiger was up to.

Suspicious is a hard way to live. You’re always suspecting that someone is about to jump you. Maybe you got jumped before. Maybe you grew up that way, always on guard, learning to use your face as a shield. And as a weapon.

In the Bible, King Saul was suspicious of David (1 Samuel 18:9). Read the entire story. It did not end well for Saul.

Generally, giving the stink eye is just going to earn you a stink eye in return and there is no real winner in that kind of staring contest. Dirty looks can start a fight. Instead of suspicious, we can be observant and aware. That way we don’t get jumped and we don’t jump someone else.

I am learning that lesson. I wish I could teach it to Snoopey. The last stink eye she gave Tiger almost started a fight.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Stella’s Blog #6 – “Hey!” is not my Name

Hello. I, Stella the Olde English Bulldogge, have returned to invite you to share my thoughts on all things bulldoggy, but first a clarification. Despite what my transcriptionist may have written recently, my name is not Hey. My name is Stella and I command …all right, I prefer that everyone use it. I won’t offer an opinion as to what the other bulldogs should be called or whether or not the “Hey” word applies to them.

Actually, I will.

“Hey!” does not apply to me because I do not provoke it. I don’t go around picking up odd objects with my mouth. Any objects I pick up go into my hoard and become mine by right of possession. If someone else claims them, too bad, too sad, they should not have left them alone on the floor in the first place. Finders keepers, as the humans say, losers…well, losers.

Who among us should be called “Hey!”?

Presenting the current List of Offenders ranked from most offensive to least:

  1. HEY! WIGGLES! – I saw you, Wiggles! You thought that I was asleep, but I have learned to keep one eye open. You ran by and snatched Mr. Long Blue Squishy Hound right out of my bed and attempted to race with him into the yard where who knows what would have happened to him. Thankfully, Lady Human saw what you did and rescued Mr. Long Blue Squishy Hound before you could abscond with him. Well done, Lady Human! Wiggles, your name is Hey!
  1. HEY! TIGER! – The feud with Snoopey has calmed down, but it must end! When you two are barking at each other, I can’t hear the TV. I don’t like hearing barking dogs on it either, but at least they are part of the show. And that Stephen Colbert makes the humans laugh. I like hearing the humans laugh. But when you are barking, I CAN’T! Tiger, your name is Hey!
  1. HEY! SNOOPEY! – You know that whiny little sound you make to get Lady Human’s attention when she is busy with delicious-smelling food in the kitchen, well, CUT IT OUT! If you interrupt her, the delicious smell will go away and we all know that you don’t really need anything except to be the center of her attention. Snoopey, your name is Hey!
  1. HEY! MOON THE CAT! – No, that doesn’t work at all. I’ve never even heard a human say “hey” to the cat. I wish it did work. I would shout, “Hey! Cat! GET OFF THE LADY HUMAN’S CHAIR! THAT’S NOT YOUR BED!” Who does she think she is? It should be my bed.

So who among us should be called “Hey!”? Certainly not me.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.




Hey! – The Great Attention Getter

We might as well have named all the dogs “Hey”. They respond more quickly to that word than any other, except for the word “Now!” which often does grab their attention. “Now” sounds like “no”, but since they seldom pay attention to “no”, I don’t think that’s what’s snagging their hearing.

“Hey!” works for all kinds of desired behaviors:

Hey! Go into your crate. It’s time for bed. – Translation: Actually, we are exhausted. It’s time for us to go to bed and we can’t let you wander around all night, fighting with each other, plunging into the garbage, or finding other mischief. Good night!

Hey! Don’t chase the cat! – It’s loud. It’s a waste of time. She doesn’t like it, well, not much. But that game gets old fast.

Hey! Don’t eat that! –  I discussed this one before. I am sure that I will again.

Hey! Put that down! – I will be pondering dogs and private property rights in a future post.

Hey! Come here! – Pretty self-explanatory.

Hey! Go there!  – This works better when accompanied by finger pointing.

Hey! Get down!  – Used for jumping on furniture, jumping on each other, jumping on people (they believe it is the best way to show love), and jumping on my clean pants.

And there is always the ever popular, generic

Hey! Stop that!

(There are a number of other examples; you get the idea.)

In each instance, “Hey!” is not the command. It says nothing about the desired outcome. “Hey” is the attention getter- the word that turns the dogs around, causes their ears to perk up, and their big-shouldered bulldog bodies to stop – sometimes.

I regret all the times that the LORD has had to shout at me to get my attention. Perhaps I was asleep, bored, distracted by trivia, unfocused or wrongly focused, obsessed, or just plain stupid. He had to shout to get me to look in His direction. Sometimes He had to call out more than once. And at other times He had to allow some serious event that I finally noticed. An alarm. A siren. A wake up call.

“Give ye ear, and hear My voice; hearken and hear My speech.” Isaiah 28:23 KJV

©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Hey! Don’t Eat That!

We can all get in trouble when we put the wrong things in our mouths. Or even when we put too much of the right things in our mouths. Or when we eat grass and garbage. (The grass and garbage references are for our bulldog friends. Personally, I don’t eat grass or garbage.)

Wiggles is a trash can diver. She would love to be a dumpster diver, but being a bulldog, it is unlikely that she will ever encounter a dumpster short enough for her to dive into, and we wouldn’t let her anyway.

Now that spring has sprung, she is a grass-eater. When outside, she adds other delectables to her diet – an occasional acorn, dry bark from a fallen tree limb, a pecan if she can find one, and, last but not least, poop. Dog or cat variety, it makes no difference. She is not a connoisseur.

When she finds something that she wants to eat, she exhibits such joy that it makes me regret trying to take it away from her and “try” is the operative word. She trots off, tail wagging and ears flapping, head held high, deftly avoiding capture nine times out of ten.

As anyone who has been around English Bulldogs or Olde English Bulldogges knows, bullies’ diets have to be regulated due to their digestive issues. But regulate as we will, Wiggles goes for illicit snacks from the backyard and any wastepaper basket she finds unguarded. The result: gagging, farting, and on occasion, throwing up. Thank the LORD, no lasting harm. And sadly, no lesson learned by Wiggles. She sniffs out next target on her next trip outside and goes for it with gusto.

Humans have been gifted with the potential for self-control unlike our bulldog companions. All we have to do is exercise it and thus avoid the unappetizing consequences.

“Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” Proverbs 25:16 KJV

Sound, practical advice.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Disorderly Conduct, Part 1

As Stella the Olde English Bulldogge (self-styled “Queen Stella”) sees fit to pop onto this blog space to air her own opinions about the misbehavior of others, I am taking the same tack to point out some bulldog – and Siamese cat – disorderly conduct. While the incidents on this list may appear trite, taken together they show a trend, namely, that bulldogs – and one cat in particular – engage in disorderly conduct on a regular basis. Unlike Stella’s List of Offenders on her blog posts, the following incidents appear in no particular order of disorder or intensity.

  1. My sweet little burnt orange clay dish was minding its own business in the patio when someone with perfect aim pooped right in the middle of it. I almost threw it away rather than clean it. Even cleaned, I am always going to remember the perfect target one of the dogs made of it. (Still and all, it was a good shot. The dish was small and sitting at a difficult angle. But be that as it may, no disorderly points are deducted for accuracy. The future plants won’t mind, I hope.)
  1. Snoopey ran in from outside, saw Moon, our cat, whirled around, and rammed her big bulldoggy rear end into the shelf by my chair, tumbling my pencil holders, spilling them everywhere. And she didn’t even chase the cat. And she didn’t help me pick up the pens and pencils either which was no doubt just as well since dog slobber does not make them write more smoothly.
  1. Inexplicably, the dogs have chosen a spot two feet behind my chicken-watching chair in the backyard as their new favored potty spot. Yay! The pleasant odors of each season are smothered by a new fragrance. (No, not inexplicably. It is just one more way for them to say that they love me and want to be near me. I should be honored. Should be.)
  1. Moon the cat has been testing the boundaries of our Bulldoggy Nation by walking as slowly as possible past the sleeping dogs. That is innocent enough, you may think, but I know her better than that. Everything is set up so that she can move anywhere without passing by the dogs at all. What she is doing is a test to see just how long it will take them to wake up and realize that she is there, taunting them and their less than sharp noses. And when one of them does note her proximity, the whole place erupts into a spectacular, extremely annoying display of frantic barking. Annoying to whom? Well, not to Moon who has by then simply strolled away.

So if you enjoy voting (and who doesn’t, especially this year), please vote for your choice of the most Disorderly Conduct on the list and post it in the Comment section below.

“Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV

©2016 H.J Hill All Rights Reserved.


The Hallelujah Breakfast Club

As a hurrier through life, I have skipped breakfast more often than I have eaten it. My run out the door seldom routed a swing through the kitchen. When my last job ended, I decided to make a change and started each morning with a simple, healthy breakfast. That sounds more wholesome than it usually is. Honestly, the definition of “healthy” shifts based on cravings and what happens to be available in the refrigerator.

As the early riser/recently unemployed, I took over the feeding of the bulldogs and their morning bathroom runs. I stepped into the den where every dog slept and they jumped to their feet in anticipation. “At last, this lady has come to feed us and let us out to pee.”  That was my interpretation. They didn’t vocalize it. They said it with their stomping feet. The whole room vibrated and rumbled like a bulldog percussion section. Sixteen dancing, pounding feet celebrated being alive, and hungry.

So we started sharing breakfast time together. Within a short while, I joined them in the morning celebration stomp and dubbed the daily event “The Hallelujah Breakfast Club”. I even made up a little theme song for it. (I will not burden you with the details.)

Once the food bowls were distributed, the persistent sound of chomping filled the room. My satisfaction at that sound surprised me. Humans may smack when we eat, but by and large, we are quiet consumers. Bulldogs don’t hold back. They enjoy eating and they let everyone know it. I was glad that they were glad. And I was happy that I was the one privileged to fill their bowls.

The Hallelujah Breakfast Club turned what could have been a lonely, mindless chore into a feast and the thing that made it so was an attitude. I could have chosen to be down or burdened or distracted or annoyed, but the noise of their silly bulldog feet pounding out “good morning” welcomed me to a different point of view – a joyful one. I don’t skip breakfast anymore if I can share the time with a bulldog. They know how to enjoy a good meal.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog #5 – Why Did God Make Cats?

Hello! Once again, it is I, Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge. Today I ask an age-old question – Cats. Why?

I understand that the Creator made all sorts of creatures, most importantly, dogs. But He made cats, too, and it seems to me odd that He would put any time or attention into such an annoying animal when He simply could have made more dogs.

While dogs are straightforward, cats are sneaky. Well, Snoopey is a dog and she looks suspicious most of the time so she may be sneaky and I have actually only been acquainted with one cat so I may be over generalizing, but that’s not the point. The point is…cats. Why?

And this question brings me to my List of Offenders. From the greatest offender to the least offensive:

  1. For the first time we have a tie for the greatest offender: Moon the Cat and Snoopey.

Snoopey tore 2 huge holes in her new bed just to see what was inside. How rude! If it is soft, comfortable, and it doesn’t smell like food, why would you even want to know what was in it? Just sleep on it and let it be! Now Lady Human is going to take time away from paying attention to me so she can repair it. Will you tear more holes in it, Snoopey? Hmmm? Will you? Will you?

But equally as annoying was Moon the Cat. Instead of being quiet and staying in her numerous secret places (where it is almost impossible to reach her), she pranced around the house as though she owned the place. Which she does not, not even one day a week. We bulldogs own the house. Ssshhh! Don’t tell our humans! They are confused on this issue though they may be clueing in. Anyway, Moon (what a silly name) tempts us to chase her and usually gets her wish. So unfair. Why is she allowed to put temptation in our paths and then slink away or climb to heights we cannot reach? Again I ask – cats. Why?

  1. Tiger made #2 on my offenders list. Reason? Excessive barking – at the cat.
  1. Me – why? Well, excessive barking – at the cat.
  1. Wiggles was hilarious. She almost caught the cat! And she had no idea what to do! So she just stared at Moon for a few seconds, I guess waiting for the cat to say something more intelligent than “meow”, and then walked away. Good old Wiggles.

Ages hence, as the humans say, if I am given the honor of asking the Creator any question at all, I think I’ll have only one. I believe you can guess what it will be.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Don’t Fight the Lead!

I have noticed that I tend to use a lot of exclamation points in these blog posts. Many advise against them. Those many are not writing about bulldogs.

All the dogs I have ever owned or dealt with have walked on leads or leashes without much trouble. There was the introduction phase, the training phase, and things proceeded pretty easily from there. Of course, the one Great Pyrenees we had years ago (weighing in at 100 pounds in the winter) knew when she was going to the vet, and no leash could persuade her to move once we got to the parking lot. From that point on I did a lot of picking up the front paws, then picking up the back paws, then picking up the front paws, etc. It went that way until we inched our way forward. And I do mean ‘inched’.

None of our Olde English Bulldogges came to us leash-trained. What does that mean during transportation or walking? They walk when they want to and stop when they want to and there is a lot of cajoling, commanding (hence the exclamation points), and less cooperation than I would like.

And then there’s the pulling, and I mean pulling as in we could win a tug of war against a group of Marines. When one of our dogs makes up her bulldoggy mind to head in a certain direction, she heads in that certain direction which is not, of course, my certain direction. We wage a war of wills, or more to the point, a war of muscles, and that is where I often come up short.

I give a lot of lip service to following the will of God for my life, but when it comes to following His lead, I strain in my own direction, hoping that He will change His mind and go with me or that I heard Him wrong. He loves me enough not to give up on me. He knows my stubbornness. Sometimes He lets me pull in my own way down the wrong path until I stop and turn around with a confused look on my face. Then we start over.

When the bulldogs fight the lead, I hold on with a mighty hand. For a time, the battle is on. But I love them too much to let them run across a busy street, stray off on their own to get lost, or aggressively charge another dog. And that’s how the Lord loves me (though truthfully I have never been known to charge at dogs).

“Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou are my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Gifts – Use ‘Em, Don’t Abuse ‘Em

I bought a commercial brand bed pad for Snoopey after having made her one from some stout fabric and a bunch of left-over stuffing material that just sat around being lazy. Every good thing has a use. Nobody and nothing is without a purpose.

Snoopey never tore at the pad I made the way Wiggles and Tiger tore at theirs. She liked it a lot, but it was bulky and hard to wash and the fabric collected and held onto dog hair like a hoarder at a multi-family garage sale snatches up knick-knacks. (There are hoarders, and then there are collectors. I argue for my part that I am the latter. Don’t try to talk me out of it.)

So I bought a bed with a zippered cover that could be removed for washing and with a recessed cushioned center. I thought it was nicer looking than the one I had made (it was) and it would be so much easier to clean. Snoopey treaded it thoroughly, snuggled down into the center, and went to sleep. Success! Gift giving is so difficult when you don’t know what others like.

And then I found her tearing apart two seams and pulling the stuffing out. So much for the perfect gift. Why, Snoopey, why?

You never quite know how someone is going to use, or abuse, a gift you give them. Perhaps they won’t use it at all.

I have been guilty of failing to use gifts on so many occasions that I have lost track. I have literally found a gift in a drawer or a closet, never touched since the day I received it, and realized, “Hey, I needed this. I could have been using this the whole time.” Why didn’t I? And I have found gifts that were stashed away for so long that they had rusted and crumbled to iron-red dust.

Gifts are meant to be used. Gifts are meant to be shared. At the very least gifts are meant for more than storing away or tearing to shreds.

Now I must learn another lesson – how to repair a dog bed so that a bulldog cannot easily rip it apart.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

A Little Rain Must Fall

My mother often employed the old expression, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” She never knew a bulldog or she would have realized that they reject that sentiment utterly. Like oil and water, rain and bulldogs don’t mix.

Our most recent interactions with a morning-long downpour went something like this:

Snoopey. I knew what was going to happen, but I tried anyway. “Come on, girl, outside quick! It’s a little slower now.” She took five steps toward the open door. Nope! Recognizing the wet mess, she whirled around, ran into her crate, and hunkered down.

Okay, next?

Stella didn’t even lift her head. She opened her eyes, glanced at the door, and closed them again. Nope! I generally know when not to waste my time.

Okay, next?

Wiggles. Sweet, sweet Wiggles. I hustled her through the door before she knew what was going on in the world of weather. (Not always quick on the uptake is Wiggles, but as I said, really, really sweet). She halted just outside, cast a longing look over her shoulder at the dry house, sighed, went “oh, well”, and trotted into the yard to get it over with which she did in double quick time. Back inside, she performed the mandatory ceremonial shaking of the coat.

Okay, next?

Tiger. Eager and quick, she ran to the door, skidding to a halt, cartoon style, with all four legs fighting off the soaked threshold. Nope! Oh, come on, Tiger! I gave her a push from behind, but the feet were planted. Nope! I gave up. Some bulldog battles aren’t worth fighting. She flipped around and rushed into her crate, not even detouring for a morning snarl match with Snoopey. That’s how serious avoiding this rain business was.

We all face trials. Some are easier than others to confront. Our attitudes make the difference in how well we come through it.

“…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:2-3 KJV

Like the bulldogs, I don’t always count rain or some other delay or temptation a joy, but if I let it, it does teach patience. And none of the fussing over it stopped a single drop of rain from falling. We all eventually got a little wet.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Jump the Gun

Not all anniversaries should be celebrated. A few are what I refer to as “anniversaries of hell” – days that deserve to be forgotten. Those are the days we never wanted to live to see and may be surprised that we lived through. Then there are the ones that mark an event or a meeting that changed our lives forever, days we continue to thank God for year after year, decade after decade.

Stella and I just passed one of those great anniversaries yesterday – the anniversary of the day she came to live with us, but it didn’t start that way. I have related how I felt when Stella showed up all stinky, flatulent, pregnant, and just plain bulldoggy.

While that day does not qualify for my definition as an “anniversary of hell”, it fell far away from being a Day of Heaven. The rough edges around my job at the time cut through that day. I wanted to crawl into a proverbial hole, but I couldn’t find any that would fit me. And here came Stella, turning my den floor into her toilet, and for her next act, throwing up a piece of plastic that she had consumed at her former residence.  Welcome to bulldogginess.

This could not end well. Could it? As it turned out, I jumped the gun. I judged the event too soon. I was old enough to know better, but I didn’t.

We can make that mistake both ways. We run into a situation that looks terrible or at least not so great only to find out down the road that it was a gift from God. And we run into another situation that is all shiny and bright and wrapped in colorful paper and ribbons only to wind up crushed with disappointment when we discover the sheen dulled, the brightness dimmed, and the shredded paper and ribbons were headed for the trash all along.

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart…” 1 Corinthians 4:5 KJV



 ©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Stella’s Blog #4 – What is a Campout? Hey, Why Are We Outside?

Lady Human put me in her car one day along with a bunch of interesting smelling stuff, a bag of treats, and several small bags of food. I was so excited because none of the others were coming, just me. And that’s as it should be. I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. No other bulldogs need apply.

We rode for a long time and when we stopped, we walked into a wide space surrounded by trees. What kind of a place was this? We were in someone else’s backyard. We could have stayed in ours. Ours has a fence. Here just anyone could walk up. There was no fence and no house to go into when it got dark or if it started to rain. She kept saying “campout”. I wanted her to stop. That word had an ugly sound like it had something to do with being outside. No. No. No. Inside dog. That’s me.

I took advantage of being outdoors to pee, but instead of leaving, Lady Human spread something on the ground and used long, thin, bendy sticks to raise it up. A tiny cloth house! Cool! That’s where I am sleeping tonight! I told her. Don’t get any ideas about me sleeping out in some stranger’s unfenced backyard. Why did we come here anyway?

Humans are strange creatures. But not as strange as cats.

The tiny cloth house was more comfortable than I imagined it would be. It had my portable crate and my regular bed and Lady Human had brought along my toys. She had a long soft pad that opened up and she could crawl into it. During the night, I left my crate and crawled into it, too. She acted as though there wasn’t enough room, but I pushed and pushed until I proved her wrong.

When daylight came back, we went to a building where Lady Human spoke her odd language with another human and all of a sudden we got into a little car that had no walls. My crate was not in it. Was it safe? My lady seemed to think so. She was not wearing a leash across her middle. She was turning the round toy that made the little car go one way and then another. Scary. She wanted me to sit beside her on the seat. I opted for the floor, thank you very much. It was closer to the ground.

We rode around in the weird little car for a while. There were huge creatures with long faces and very long pointy sticks coming out of the sides of their heads. They stared at us and chewed grass. A little grass now and then is fine, but these beasts made a meal out of it. Their stomachs must have really been upset. They looked angry. I am not happy when my stomach is upset either. I wished my lady would make the rolling car crate go faster. What if they had decided to throw up?

We ate outside. We slept in the tiny cloth house again. Then we ate outside. When it was dark, Lady Human spent a long time sitting in a chair, looking up into the black sky. She kept saying something about “moon”, but Moon the cat was not with us so I don’t know what that was about and I was tired, so I went to bed. Lady Human’s long pad was perfect. She would just have to sleep somewhere else.

Then we got into the real car with all the stuff including the tiny cloth house and we came home. Real home. Everything was the way we had left it. Which causes me to ask again – why were we outside?


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.