Stella’s Blog – Things that Make Me Mad

Hello. I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, and I have a few complaints.

(Transcriptionist: As usual.)

Hey, this is my blog. Stick your opinions in your own. This brings me to the first thing that makes me mad – the opinions of others unless they agree with mine. The humans talk about voting all the time. I’m not sure what voting is, but it sounds like someone else’s opinion and, therefore, another thing that would make me mad.

From what the humans say, I perceive that voting means you can choose a thing or a person and someone else can choose differently, and if enough people choose differently from you, YOU LOSE!

I don’t like that. So yes, voting is on my list of things that make me mad. I am the queen; I get to choose.

No voting allowed!

But if we did allow voting in the house, we bulldogs would outnumber the cat. Hmmm. And we could vote her out. That is unless Wiggles voted with the cat just to be “nice”. And then there is Tiger. I have suspected for a long time that Tiger has a secret peace treaty with the cat. Oh, she barks at the cat and stirs the rest of us up, but never have I seen Tiger actually chase the cat. Hmmm.

Then the other day, I watched Snoopey as she walked right up to the cat while the cat hissed at her and made an ugly face (no, that was her regular face, sorry). And what did Snoopey do? She TURNED AROUND AND WALKED AWAY!

I may not be able to count on the bulldog vote after all. So it is certain. Voting is one thing that makes me mad.

(Transcriptionist: Besides, the humans hold the power to veto.)

Veto? That sounds suspicious, like something else that would make me mad.

And I haven’t even gotten to other maddening things that I put on my list – things like:

  • Moon the Cat
  • The rule against cat chasing
  • Limitation of treats to only a few times a day
  • Wiggles getting more reward treats than the rest of us

(Transcriptionist: Because she earns more than the rest of you.)

Enough for this time. I will go back to work on my mad list. I can’t do anymore now. I am just so…so…so mad!

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

 [Transcriptionist’s note: Stella has gone to cool down and chew on her Nylabone. Meanwhile, we will close with this:

  “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”  (Ephesians 4:26 KJV)]


No Screeching, Please! – Conversations with Stella

The Olde English Bulldogge known as Stella has a bone to pick with me so we’ll begin our conversation:

Stella:   Bone? Where’s a bone?

Me:        There is no bone. That’s just a human expression.

Stella:   Oh, as usual, humans playing jokes, trying to fool the poor old bulldogs. First dressing up as giant insects, now teasing us with non-existent bones.

Me:        Let’s not get into that giant insect thing again. I had hoped that you had forgotten about that.

Stella:   A giant insect does not fade from the memory.

Me:        Obviously not.

Stella:   I thought you had seen one and that is why you were screeching.

Me:        Screeching? I haven’t screeched about anything. What are you talking about?

Stella:   That horrible, high-pitched noise that was coming out of your mouth this morning. It hurt my ears so much; I wanted to cover them up.

Me:        I haven’t been screeching, Stella. I don’t know what you are talking about….unless…I found an old songbook that I had when I was little and I was singing out of it.

Stella:   Is a songbook one of those dead flat things that you hold on your lap and stare at and it causes you to pay no attention to us?

Me:        Well, yes, that or a regular book or a cell phone or a computer…

Stella:   Just because you found an old, dead songbook that you had when you were a puppy is no reason to screech in our ears over it.

Me:        Did my singing bother the others, too?

Stella:   Who cares? It bothered me.

Me:        I am sorry. I do enjoy singing sometimes.

Stella:   I enjoy chewing on a good stick sometimes, but I don’t pretend to be one of those humans who…Awwwww, you know, they take sticks and build boxes and stuff.

Me:        A carpenter? A craftsman?

Stella:   Yeah, those, I guess.

Me:        I don’t pretend to be a singer. And as for screechy noises, how about that voice you use that is so high-pitched and ear-splitting.

Stella:   You mean the Cat Chasing Song of my people.

Me:        Is that what you call it? It’s a bulldog song?

Stella:   It tells the bulldogs within ear range that there’s a cat afoot and it’s time to play.

Me:        So why are you allowed to sing all screechy and I am not?

Stella:   My song serves a purpose; yours, not so much.

Me:        Maybe we should both agree to cover our ears when the other one is “singing”.

Stella:   Or we can agree that you will sing silently in your head or buy a good recording of your songs. My song must be sung live and aloud. It is a treasured bulldog tradition.

Me:        Is that why you keep “singing” when I ask you to stop?

Stella:   You wouldn’t want to interfere with a tradition, would you?


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Watch Out! What’s That Up Ahead?

The warm weather arrived just prior to the annual air conditioning launch. We turned the ceiling fans up to maximum, but even without cooking or baking inside the house, it wasn’t quite enough. Oh, we and the cat and the heat-sensitive bulldogs were going to live all right. Our ideal comfort level eluded us though.

We gathered the portable fans from their various locations around the house, plugged them in, turned them on high, and let them buzz their mechanical hearts out. The dogs accepted the stirred air graciously and settled down, tongues back in mouths.

The fans twirled all night and still ran strong when the cooler morning came. Nobody appeared disturbed by their presence until Tiger had to go out. She darted past me as she usually does. She has “grown up”, matured during the past few weeks. Gone are her incessant attempts to feud with Snoopey over who’s in charge of the pack. I’m not saying that is over and done with, simply that Tiger has cooled her efforts in that direction for the time being.

Tiger came back in the house and scooted past her crate, running her nose over the floor in case she had missed any food crumbs from her breakfast. When I asked her to go into her crate so I could run my errands, she backed away and glanced at the odd little round thing nearby. One of the fans, happily whirring at full blast, aimed its current of air across that side of the room.

The bulldogs are always sensitive to oddities and new items that suddenly appear in their paths. I realized right away what Tiger was trying to avoid.

I thought for a moment about moving it farther away, but I opted for an exercise in trust – her trust in me.

I called her. She hesitated and stayed back. I extended my hand. Still she waited and refused to pass the fan. I stepped forward until I could reach her and I stroked her head and neck, telling her the whole time that everything was all right and that she was safe with me. She walked a few steps toward me and the crate. She stopped alongside the vicious fan and let me pet her.

And just like that, the fan was no longer a problem. It never really had been, but Tiger didn’t realize that. She took a step of faith in me and finally trusted me enough to let me help her past her fear.

I should know better than Tiger. I don’t.

I cringe and pull back when there is something strange in my path. I am supposed to trust God to walk me past it, but I don’t. I hesitate, hold back, delay, wonder, and try to figure it out myself. And then, eventually, I take one step toward Him and His hand is there. He was there the whole time.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

I Demand to Speak to a Manager – Conversations with Stella

Stella, our opinionated Olde English Bulldogge, has a complaint she wishes to air. So let’s begin the conversation:

Me:        Hi, Stella! What’s the problem?

Stella:   Are you the one in command here? Because I only want to talk to the one in command.

Me:        Well, no bulldog, or cat for that matter, is in command that’s for sure. And “command” is not the best word. This is our home. It is not the army. The humans are in charge here. Why would you doubt that?

Stella:   Because first Snoopey and then Tiger each told me that they are in command. And because Wiggles is always disobeying and doing whatever she wants and she gets by with it because “she is so sweet” and “the sweetest dog ever”. Yuck! What gushy nonsense! Humans are supposed to be smart. How can you fall for that act?

Me:        Wiggles is super sweet. She dances in her comma shape and only wants head pets and neck rubs and the occasional treat.

Stella:   Aagghh! The occasional treat! I think you’ve lost count. But really, IS ANYONE IN CHARGE HERE?

Me:        We humans are. Why?

Stella:   Everything is so chaotic. Nobody is listening. Nobody obeys the rules.

Me:        Nobody? Not even you?

Stella:   Me? Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. What was the question?

Me:        You want to know if anyone is in charge. You say that no one obeys the rules. Do you obey the rules?

Stella:   Me? Yes. Well, sometimes. Hmmm. I’m not really clear on what the rules are.

Me:        How about one rule? Is there a rule against chasing the cat?

Stella:   And that’s all the time we have for our conversation today, people…

Me:        Nope. We have plenty of time.

Stella:   But I don’t like that no-cat-chasing rule.

Me:        Not the point.

Stella:   Awwww!

Me:        I understand. Humans have rules set for us, too, and some of them I flat don’t like.

Stella:   So you ignore them.

Me:        No. If they are silly or useless, I may try to get them changed. But some rules are set by God and wisdom tells me that they are good and for my safety and they won’t change. God is God and I am not.

Stella:   Is the no-cat-chasing rule one of God’s rules?

Me:        I wish I could say it is, but no. It’s one of our rules.

Stella:   So about these changeable rules, how do I go about working on that?

Me:        Write your legislator, but I don’t think you’ll get far with that. Bulldogs can’t vote.


Copyright 2016 H.J.Hill All Rights Reserved.


Four-Legged Bowling Balls

I don’t count myself as the most graceful person on two legs. Clumsy is a more accurate description for me. Yet most of the time I can stay upright and move along at a reasonable clip. There was one instance when I tripped over my own feet on slightly uneven pavement and took a nosedive – literally. (My nose became well acquainted with the asphalt in a parking lot. My DNA is likely still there.)

Having bulldogs around has reinforced the need for me to keep my feet firmly set on the ground.

I have described the dogs as barrel racers, as two feet long by 18 inch tall Sherman tanks, and now I think of them as four-legged bowling balls. They don’t make quite the same noise as a bowling ball picking up speed down a lane, but if I get in their way when they are running, my legs become bowling pins and, well, you can picture the rest.

All in all, the bulldogs have made me more nimble on my feet. I don’t always hear their galloping up on me from behind. All of a sudden, a head brushes my leg as a bulldog barrels past, my leg buckles at the knee, and I struggle to stay upright. The excited dog has no idea how close I came to collapse.

After all, they have four legs; I have two. Dogs can count. They just don’t put two and two together. Four feet on the ground are a distinct advantage for balance.

Also, our bulldogs have no concept of a passing lane. Hey, y’all, there is plenty of room to run around me. You don’t have to touch me or come so close.

So what is this new lesson from bulldogs?

Keep an eye on what may be rushing up on you from behind.

Not everybody is going to be looking out for your safety so DRIVE FRIENDLY!

Keep your balance even if someone else tries to take your feet out from under you.

Hop around on one leg until you can get two (or more) back on the ground. If you                     can’t get two back on the ground, just keep going on one.

Be flexible. Be Flexible!  BE FLEXIBLE!

The ground is always there to catch you. So is God.

“For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.”           (Psalm 116:8 KJV)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved



Stella’s Blog – Hello, Cat! Where Are You?

Hello. I am Stella. I am an Olde English Bulldogge. In fact, I am their Queen. No one elected me. No committee selected me. I selected me.

It was hard sitting around the first two years of my life while no human understood who I really am. During that time, I was not accorded the honors due me as Queen. That was not the fault of my old humans per se. They were ignorant. I wasn’t wearing a crown.

When I came to my new home with my new humans, I made my status clear from the beginning. Once, Tall Man invited me to stay in a dome-shaped house in the backyard. Are you kidding me? There was no television. There was no cat to chase. Did that really look like the palace of a queen? I put on my best “We are not amused” sad face and succeeded in putting a quick end to that nonsense. Tall Man brought back into my main house right away.

I am Queen Stella. Treat me like a queen and give me treats and we will get along fine. Let me say it again. Give me treats!

I have been blogging more lately because I have a lot to say. Humans never stop talking so I figure neither should I. Bulldogs do not exercise their free speech rights often enough.

Anyone who has been around us for long has seen it. Other dogs are barking and the good old bulldog is just sitting there, slump shouldered, panting, maybe burping a little bit (it happens), but otherwise quiet, not saying anything. Every once in a while, we might blow out a lip ruffle simply to let the humans know that we don’t approve of what’s going on. We disapprove of much so the classic bulldog lip ruffle comes in handy.

Which leads me to my List of Offenders which has only two names on it this time:

Lady Human and Moon the Cat


Lady Human disagrees with me and says humans do not belong on the List of Offenders and I say oh, yes, they do! This time Lady Human seems to be in cahoots with Moon the Cat. I have been looking for the cat in order to chase her and I can’t ever seem to find her. When I ask Lady Human where she is, Lady just smiles and says, “Oh, she’s around.” And then she adds something ridiculous like, “You shouldn’t chase the cat.”

Oh, yes, I should! Do you know what Moon the Cat was doing the past few days? She walked up to each of us bulldogs DURING NAPTIME and meowed right in our faces. Incredibly rude! And I hear new noises sometimes coming from above my head, coming from places I can’t see because I’m not tall enough (bulldog, remember?). I suspect that Moon has new high perches to hide on and spy down on us.

Lady Human thinks it’s funny now, but how funny will it be when the cat pounces down on her from the new high spot. And why does a cat have a perch anyway? She’s not a bird!

But no one listens to me. [deep bulldog sigh] I am only the Queen.

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I forgot to lock the back door. Again.

Three overactive, overexcited bulldogs played in the backyard while I went about my business, made myself supper, and sat down for an early evening repast in front of the television and its faithfully recorded programs.

My plate was on my lap (no TV tray for me, oh, no). My beverage was on the shelf beside my chair – the tall, skinny, shaky shelf that wavers like a skyscraper in an earthquake and holds an enormous number of small fragile items that can come crashing down at the merest touch from a bulldog’s behind. I like to live life on the edge.

I was half-way through the meal.

The backdoor swung open. The backdoor that I forgot to lock. The backdoor that is right by my shelf and easy chair.

Three overactive, overexcited bulldogs danced into the room, rocked the shelf and me, and then pranced across the floor before I could jump out of my seat.

The shelf dripped with the liquid that had been safely contained in my glass, cascading from one level to the next until it finally puddled on the floor. My plate and remaining food survived only because I had it in my hand when the invasion took place.

I refused to assess the damage until the bullies were corralled. They breathed deeply from the excitement of having caused yet another scene and slopped huge amounts of water into their bulldoggy mouths.

Then the cleanup began and, eventually, I sat down to consume the remainder of my food and to stare at the perpetrators. Their eyes said it all. “What?”

To them it was one more jolly romp. Their regret – they knocked only one item off the shelf and I was able to grab it before any of them did. Oh, and they didn’t dislodge any food from my plate.


The talented door opener (I think I know which one it is) simply took advantage of my failure to secure the lock. A quick swipe of the paw, a determined downward pull on the handle is all it takes. If the door is locked, a minor disappointment. But if it is unlocked…“Whoop! Here we come!”


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog – Be Nice!

Hello! I have returned to my blog to give you my insight, the wisdom of an Olde English Bulldogge, and please understand that Olde English Bulldogge is my official breed and has nothing to do with my age or nationality. I don’t really know what “nationality” means. I will ask about that another time.

Anyway, my transcriptionist (a.k.a. Lady Human – yes, I am still employing her. I wish I could get someone better, but no one else will work for a dog for free) – she tells me that I am not being NICE to the other dogs or to the cat and that I should try harder to be NICE.

NICE is a human word that does not translate well into dog languages. I am attempting to understand what I am supposed to do, what NICE is, but the best I can grasp to this point from the humans is that NICE means:


“no barking”

“no biting”

“no pooping or peeing inside the human house”

“no whining”

“tastes good”

“feels good”

“smells good”

“fits well”

And about a million other things that humans think are important. (No, I do not know how many a million is, but I gather that it is a bunch, like more than all the treats in the world. So I would not mind having a million NICE treats.)

I don’t think that I can be NICE. It is too big a burden for one dog, especially a bulldog.

Soft? My face is smooshy soft, but how does that help the other dogs or Moon the cat.

No barking? That’s simply unreasonable. I AM A DOG! Besides which, THEY STARTED IT!

No biting? Look at my face with that big under bite. I was born to bite. And besides, I have never bitten any human or animal (not that there weren’t a few who deserved it. Just my opinion.) So technically, I am already NICE in this category.

No pooping or peeing inside the human house? But what if I NEED to.  What if it’s NICE for me?

No whining? Awwwww!

Tastes good? Nobody better go taste on me, I tell you what!

Feels good? That’s all right. I am NICE in that category. You can pet me all you want and then some.

Smells good? I admit it. Sometimes I make odors that are not pleasant, even to me, but if I have to be NICE and not make bad smells, then so do the others! How about some NICE smells for me?

Fits well? I can’t help the shape I am. I am a bulldog and there are lots of places that I don’t fit. Like on the floor of that little car we take camping. I tried to fit myself there, but the back seat was much more accommodating. And it is true, I am not a lap dog, but I am still trying. The humans’ laps have just got to get bigger.

The humans are going to have to come up with stuff I can do, stuff that’s not NICE.

Signed,  Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





Conversations with Stella – Language Barrier

I’ll jump right into my conversation with Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, with a question:

Me:        Stella, what in the world did you say to Wiggles that got her so wound up and freaked out?

Stella:   You know Wiggles. You don’t have to say much to her to freak her out.

Me:        But she was more agitated than I have ever seen her. I really want to understand how you all communicate with each other. You weren’t even talking at first…if that whiny weird bulldog type raw raw rah noise can be called ‘talking’…

Stella:   How insulting! Of course, it’s talking!

Me:        I’m never sure.

Stella:   What else would it be?

Me:        High pitched yawning. Low pitched burping.

Stella:   No, those are different. Allow me to demonstrate…

Me:        That’s okay. Not right now. What I witnessed between you two was, first, you calling her over to your crate and Wiggles responding.


Stella:   Wiggles always does what I say.

Me:        We’ll get into that later. Wiggles was relaxed and then you two shared a silent, nose to nose conversation, no noises, just staring at each other, and Wiggles completely changed. She stood up straight. She hopped around Stella style…

Stella:   Thank you for naming that particular movement after me. I did invent it.

Me:        While I doubt that, calling it the Stella Hop is the easiest way for me to refer to it. Back to the point, you then verbally aimed Wiggles at the cat. What did you say to Wiggles that transformed her in an instant from a laid back, cat-friendly bulldog to a bulging-eyed bundle of nerves?

Stella:   Simple. I said, “Are you a bulldog or a cat? If you’re a bulldog, start acting like one! Now, go chase that cat off the piano!” And that’s when you interfered.

Me:        I am a human. What I do is correction, not interference.

Stella:   Well, it interfered with my plan.

Me:        I calmed her down, that’s all. I just wish I could understand what you all are saying, but the sounds make no sense to me.

Stella:   And you believe humans make sense. You never stop barking. Sit! Come! Go! No! By the way, are those two the same word, just with a different accent? And even after we do what we think you want us to do, you keep barking. It is all so confusing.

Me:        Sort of the way Wiggles was confused when you told her to chase the cat and she didn’t want to or understand why.

Stella:   No, that’s completely different. I can see that we still have a language barrier.

Me:        At least we’re working on it.


Stella:   Humph! Stupid cat! Why can’t she act more like a bulldog? We outnumber her. You can hear us coming. She pads around on those silly soft feet and all of a sudden, WHOA! She’s right behind you. Hey, did you see where she sneaked into your room and knocked over some of your stuff?

Me:        Yes.

Stella:   You’ll never catch a bulldog knocking your stuff over or…oh…well, never mind.


“There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.”

(1 Corinthians 14:10 KJV)



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.










Hey! Stop Bossing Me Around!

Only one word described the weather – wet. Excuse me. Let me make that clearer. WET!!!! The bulldogs were bored and their boredom fixated on the cat. Nobody wanted to go outside in all that water and we were taking advantage of pauses in the rain to encourage potty breaks.

Stella usually likes her bed. Again let me make that clearer. Stella LOVES her bed! And with all the down time due to the incessant bad weather, she had been a little cat-centric so she was chilling in her crate. Wiggles had just come back in from outside and was strolling around. Moon the Cat crossed the room and Wiggles trotted behind her for about three paces, then lost interest. The cat assumed her exalted position on top of the piano in serene splendor.

Well, that popped Stella’s cork.

She started whining and escalated to barking, but not at me. She barked to grab Wiggles’ attention and Wiggles ran to her side. Stella proceeded to read Wiggles the bulldog version of the Riot Act, face to face, muzzle to muzzle, nose to nose.

Sweet, calm, “I get along with everybody” Wiggles.

I don’t know what Stella said to Wiggles. I am not fluent in bulldoggese. But whatever it was, it changed Wiggles’ mind and attitude in a heartbeat.

Imagine the scene where a boss screams in the face of an employee for doing or failing to do something that the employee had no idea about, had never thought of, and didn’t even know could be done.

Within seconds, Wiggles jumped to attention, her ears sprang to the top of her head, and she did what I have never seen her do before. She performed a Stella Hop.

A Stella Hop is a sharp, quick jump left or right at about a 90 degree angle an inch or two off the ground with both front legs stiff and locked. She hopped left to face me. She hopped back to the right to face Stella and then repeated the maneuver. It is a high excitement, high energy move for a bulldog, and would be endlessly hilarious if it weren’t so obvious that the dog’s real response is confusion. I imagine that it sounds something like this inside their heads: Help me! Help me! Something is going on and I don’t know what to do. Tell me; please tell me what to do.

Wiggles’ eyes widened, round and bulging. She looked at me for help. Stella had flipped a switch inside her, but Wiggles had no idea what to do. I knew what Stella wanted because I was watching Stella’s gaze toward the piano. She wanted that cat to be chased and no one was accommodating her.

Poor Wiggles did a side take like a cartoon character rushing out of a room, but I called her back. She sat at my feet and I started the calm down process, stroking her head and repeating her name in a low voice. She melted and the real Wiggles showed back up in her face. She leaned her head into my hand and didn’t even seem to care anymore about Stella’s whiny fussing or Tiger’s barky contribution. (Tiger is an experienced cat chase instigator. She doesn’t chase the cat herself. Oh, no, she just gets the others stirred up into doing it.)

And the whole time, Moon the Cat sat on her piano throne from which she could survey her realm, like the true queen of the house.

I would so much like to be able to speak to Wiggles in a way she could understand and tell her not to give in to the bossy voices in the world. There is no shortage of them and being loud and demanding does not make them right. Wiggles, stop listening to the highest volume mouth in the room.

And once again, just like that, I have learned a life lesson from a dog.


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.




Conversations with Stella – Peace Talks, Part 2

Here we are – again. With me is Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge and today we will attempt to stay on topic:

What the Freak Can We Do to Bring Peace Back into Our House?

Stella:    We talked about that yesterday.

Me:        Only briefly. Mostly we got stuck on the subject of giant insects.

Stella:    I am totally opposed to peace talks with giant insects. No peace talks with them, not now, not ever.

Me:        I apologize for Stella. Once she gets an idea in her head, in true bulldog fashion, she doesn’t let go. Back to topic, how do we resolve the conflict between Tiger and Snoopey and between the bulldogs and Moon the cat?

Stella:    As I said before, get rid of the other dogs.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:    Get rid of the cat.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:    You and I go away on a long trip by ourselves and let them work things out.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:    Not camping. An air-conditioned hotel, long walks on the beach, treats, that sort of thing.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:    Tall Man can take care of the others. He won’t mind.

Me:        Not the point.

Stella:    You are right. Short walks on the beach. I don’t like long walks.

Me:        Again, not the point. Look, is it possible for you to talk to Tiger about the Snoopey issue, dog to dog?

Stella:    Teenagers don’t listen. Ask again in a few months. Tiger is all “I know everything. Don’t tell me what to do. Is it hot to you all in here? I feel like running. Watch me jump.” Listening is not strong with that one.

Me:        A short term solution then?

Stella:    Do what you tried this morning. Offer her a treat every time she comes inside and you want her to ignore Snoopey. It worked.

Me:        Oh, you saw that? I thought you were asleep.

Stella:    You had a treat in your hand. I can never be too soundly asleep to miss the scent of a treat floating around. Only when you do that with Tiger, give me a treat at the same time, just to keep the peace.

Me:        Hah! Just you? What about the others?

Stella:    They can make their own deals.

Me:        Treats are supposed to be earned.

Stella:    I earn a treat by my silence. You don’t know how hard it is to keep myself from barking at Tiger when she is acting like a jerk. And Tiger earns her treat when she comes in and doesn’t pick a fight with Snoopey. You don’t know how hard it is for Tiger not to act like a jerk.

Me:        And the cat chasing? How do we stop that?

Stella:    Why would we stop that?

Me:        Because it is loud, disruptive, and disorderly.

Stella:    And loads of fun and excitement. We’re running. And the cat’s running. And we’re jumping up on the furniture and knocking stuff over and the cat is on top of stuff and under stuff and behind stuff and everybody’s barking like mad…oh, I see.

Me:        We’ll keep talking about that. And your idea about a vacation is not a bad one. Maybe we can do that sometime.

Stella:    Only we have to go to a place where there are no giant insects!

Me:        That shouldn’t be too hard to find.



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Conversations with Stella – Peace Talks

May I please reintroduce Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge. She and I are conducting an open conversation on the following topic:

What the Freak Can We Do to Bring Peace Back into Our House?

Stella:    I am not familiar with the word “freak” in that question. Is that like the other week when Tall Man dressed up like a giant insect? Because that was freaky. I’m still having nightmares.

Me:        No, this use of the word “freak” is what humans call an expletive. It is used to get people’s attention and to emphasize strong emotion. Expletives are usually empty words to be avoided and there are expletives that I choose not to use. I am using “freak” here because it fits the way I feel – freaked out by all the wild behavior in the house lately. Do you understand?

Stella:    Yes. You are freaked out by giant insects, too.

Me:        No…Yes…No. Look, I would be if I ever saw a giant insect, but there aren’t any. They don’t exist. And giant insects are not the topic for discussion today.

Stella:    They should be.

Me:        Peace in the house, no more fighting or craziness, that is the conversation we are having today.

Stella:    Barking and chasing Moon the Cat will not destroy the world. Giant insects will destroy the world.

Me:        No, they won’t.

Stella:    I saw it on one of those black and white shows on TV. You really shouldn’t leave the TV on when you go out of the room. Scary.

Me:        I’ll try to remember that. Now can you help me? What can we do to bring peace to the house?

Stella:    Get rid of all the other dogs and keep me.

Me:        That wouldn’t be fair.

Stella:    It would be fair to me. I was here first. Honestly, did you have this problem when it was just me?

Me:        Well, no.

Stella:    Moon the Cat and I got along fine, even though she made those hideous hissing noises when I walked by and she has such an ugly face because…you know, CAT! And just think how much more time you would have if the others were gone. More time to do all sorts of stuff like pet me, and play with me, and groom me, and go places with me, and…

Me:        And you would no longer be Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, because there wouldn’t be any other bulldogs here. You would have no subjects.

Stella:    Wouldn’t you be here?

Me:        Okay, we have run out of time for today. We will have to take this matter up tomorrow.  Sorry we couldn’t stay on topic.

Stella:    Please join us tomorrow when our topic will be “The Growing Menace of Giant Insects”.

Me:        Nope.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



The Secret Treaties of Dogs and Cats

I walked up on Tiger the Olde English Bulldogge and Moon the Siamese-mix Cat having a eyeball-to-eyeball negotiation in complete silence. A few seconds later, Tiger ran over to where Snoopey was napping in her crate, minding her own business, and picked a fight.

It got loud and it got tense, but at least they couldn’t reach each other. Of course, Stella had to put her two cents into the jukebox, and the noise grew louder…I think. By then, I couldn’t hear my own thoughts so maybe I just imagined that.

I think Moon made a truce with Tiger, a peace treaty of the dog/cat sort.

I, Tiger, agree that I will not chase Moon the Cat. I further agree that I will stir up trouble with the bulldog known as Snoopey instead of siccing the bulldog known as Stella on Moon the Cat.

Game changer. A new alliance has entered the Bulldoggy Nation. What else did that eye-to-eye conversation between Tiger and Moon and the subsequent events signify?

The situation between Tiger and Snoopey had relaxed. Days had been calmer. Nights had been quieter. Not perfect, just better. But Tiger remains an adolescent – a lot of excitement, little wisdom.


I have always suspected that Tiger and Moon are secretly in league with each other. In fact, I believe they are friends. Too many times have I opened the den door in the middle of the night to find Moon sitting right by an alert but tranquil Tiger. On top of that, Tiger NEVER chases Moon. She always gets someone else to do it, usually Stella because Stella is gullible. Wiggles and Snoopey just ignore Tiger’s grumbling and pointing.

So what was Moon’s part of the bargain?

I, the feline known as Moon the Cat (yuck – that was the best the humans could do?) agree to nothing. I will merely be myself. I will not to chase bulldogs because that is not what I do.

So what understanding do I gain from watching these animals live as imperfect neighbors?

That traditional enmities are not always graven in stone? Maybe.

Never trust a cat? The jury is still out on that one.

That cats are better negotiators than dogs? After all, Tiger and Snoopey have not                     been able to work out their differences.

That “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is a commandment, not just a good idea. (Matthew 22:39; Leviticus 19:18 KJV). Yes. Amen.



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.




The Leaders We Did Not Elect

Leadership – people discuss it all the time, ponder it, lust after it, fight over it. That’s because it is significant. Leadership is imperative at every level of life. Chaos reigns without good leadership and chaos reigns under bad leadership. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch. (Matthew 15:14)

First, what is not leadership?

  1. A leader is not one because of a title. There are too many wearing a title as a badge or a reward who are not leaders.
  1. Position does not a leader make. Even without the title, someone in a leadership position actually has to lead.
  1. Leadership is not aggression.
  1. Leadership is not simply issuing orders.
  1. Throwing a fit is not leadership.
  1. Manipulation is not leadership.
  1. Doing nothing is not leadership. Watch a ship that has no one at the helm and see what happens.

Our bulldog pack, so far as I know, did not hold a caucus and elect a pack leader. As the dogs came along, they argued a little among themselves from time to time, but the consensus came about naturally. Which dog “cared” more for the others? Which one watched over the safety of the whole pack, including the sometimes clueless humans whose senses of hearing and smell were not quite as developed? The answer was obvious, even to humans who were observant.


She stepped into the position without hesitation. The others defer to her. Whenever she comes back from having been separated from the pack, she makes a quick inspection tour. Is everyone there? Is everyone in place? Is everyone all right? Only then does she settle down.

And as for those silly humans in her life, she really has to watch out for them. If a stranger is outside, she hears it and barks appropriately. She has an alarm bark for oddities and emergencies, and she has a regular notification bark for things like, “Wake up, sleepyhead humans, it’s time for breakfast and bathroom.”

As with all leaders, Snoopey is not perfect.

She is suspicious. She keeps a keen eye out for everything. That may be the result of experiences in her young life before she came to us or it may be an inborn trait.

She is stubborn, but that is bulldoggy of her and not much different from the humans with whom she associates.

She jealously guards her prerogatives which include her food and her bedding. Oh, and don’t come sniffing around her face when she is napping. She’ll set a dog straight on that in quick order. On the other hand, if you’re a human, that’s fine. Feel free to stop by anytime.

When Tiger started to challenge Snoopey a few months ago, Snoopey put her feet down, all four of them, and took her stand. I am the pack leader. Tiger, you are young and full of energy, but that is not all that a leader needs to be. I am in charge. It took a while and some human guidance along the way, but Tiger seems to be growing up and has backed off the challenge for now, though we always remain vigilant. Ambition is a terrible mistress.

Nobody elected Snoopey. She didn’t run to convince anyone of her worthiness to lead. She just led.

May God grant us, not the leaders we deserve (that would be too horrible), but His leaders.

“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.




Hey, Sky! Give Me a Drink!

We have bulldogs that like to play with water, whether from a hose or a squirt bottle, and we have bulldogs that stay away from that sort of frivolity, thank you all the same. A quiet drink lapped from a bowl is just fine for them. They may be willing to tolerate the occasional bath, just don’t make it a habit.

A rain shower came up suddenly while some of the dogs were outside. One wanted to return to the house right away. When I realized it was raining, I found her waiting by the door. She rushed in, glad to have escaped the falling sky water. Still the others didn’t come and I went looking for them.

They were rolling in the gathering water by the chicken run and, when I called, they looked at me with the surprised, disappointed expressions of kids called in for the night after playing on a summer evening. Awwww! Noooo! Not yet!

Well, I wasn’t going to get all wet while they were finishing their fun. It wasn’t cold. There was no lightning. Oh, well. I went back into the house, calculating how many towels would be enough to intercept the dripping from two waterlogged bulldogs.

When I looked out the door again, the stragglers had arrived and, behold, one of them had her head tilted back with her wide open bulldoggy mouth catching a thin stream of rainwater as it cascaded from the valley in the roof.

Of course, before I could swing my camera up and snap a picture, she had stopped. Enough sky water for then.

I would like to drink pure water from a fountain. Not sure about the roof thing. Maybe if it had a strainer. Bulldogs don’t over think joys like drinking rain as it falls from the sky. I need to work on accepting life’s gifts freely as the gifts of God that they are. Not every drink of water needs to be confined to a glass.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog – The Right to Bark

I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge. Once again, hello!

Today I must address a human hypocrisy. Dogs recognize when something is unfair. If you want to see an example of unfair, here it is. My humans say that they have the right to speak freely. They talk about freedom of speech all the time. Then why don’t dogs have the same right?

I know that I have reported (not complained, mind you, simply reported) about the inane barking of the others in my pack. I am not arguing that they have the right to bark. They don’t. I have the right to bark.

 I also claim the right to whine, cry, yawn loudly, howl, sing, or make whatever noise I like when I like, even farting. (It is not speech, but I am a bulldog and it is a form of my self-expression. I refuse to be embarrassed by it, so there!)

And furthermore, like the humans, I don’t have to explain myself or my reasons for being noisy nor do I have to apologize. They don’t apologize for talking through one of my naps. They don’t apologize for playing loud, ugly, scary sounds on television. (Between you and me, I don’t care to hear any more zombies growling. See! Even zombies have more free speech rights than dogs do.)

Humans never stop talking, so why am I supposed to be quiet?

Lady Human says that it matters what you say and it matters how you say it.

So when do I get my turn. I don’t even like barking that much. My bark is screechy compared to Snoopey’s and Tiger’s voices.  My opinion still matters.

I am standing up for the right of me to bark. My voice will be heard!

I will bark when I am tired. (Well, maybe not. That takes a lot of energy and you know, tired.)

I will bark when I am bored. (No, that’s even more boring.)

I will bark when there are sirens. (Oh, what’s the point? Sirens hurt my ears, but so does my barking.)

I will bark when other dogs bark. (What will I say? BE QUIET!!!)

Oh, eventually I will find something to bark about. Meanwhile, I will ask my transcriptionist to keep typing my blog. It is quieter and won’t disturb anyone’s sleep, even mine.

What will I say when the time comes? Something good, I hope.

“…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”  (Luke 6:45 KJV)

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Bring on the Dog Days

Today I am stuck. I am sluggish. I am stagnant. You would think that the Dog Days of Summer, those oppressive hot days when you step outside and feel like someone opened an oven door right in your face, were already here. They’re not. It is a cool 85 degrees F outside. I need to relax, refresh, and reboot.

I often fail at allowing myself to relax. Even when I look like I am relaxing, my mind is always running. If I try to let it idle, my inner voice accuses me of being lazy.

The dogs are better at relaxing than I am. They have it down pat.

Here is a list of tasks in their average workday:

  • eat,
  • drink,
  • run around with tongue lolling out,
  • wrestle,
  • play,
  • chew on stuff,
  • oh, and don’t forget to eat some grass now and then,
  • pick up a stick,
  • drop it in a new place,
  • sniff everything at least once.

Work done? Find a cool spot on the floor, flop belly flat onto it, and NAP. For how long? For as long as necessary.

That sounds like a plan. Well, I would leave out the stick and the grass eating and be selective about what I sniff, but the nap might hit the spot. Maybe not belly flat on the floor. The bulldogs and I do have our style differences.

It’s a Dog Day. Hallelujah!


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Freak Out

Strange events have taken over the news lately, happenings that turn the pressure up on everyone 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. We get no vacations from them, no pauses, no truces, no answers, or so it seems.

I believe in answers. I believe they exist and I believe that we can discover them. We may miss the mark, overshooting our target or undershooting it, but we can aim again. And I believe that in the center of every question and answer, in the bull’s-eye, is God.

Sometimes the problem is that we misinterpret what we see or hear because we don’t have all the facts. Just like last week when the bulldogs went nuts because they saw something strange in the backyard and sounded the alarm. (For two perspectives on what happened, check out last week’s posts, Stella’s Blog – MONSTER ALERT! – Special Edition and The First Thing is Don’t Panic.)

The bulldogs serve as barometers of tension. They make me aware that I am not aware.

Last night, we turned on the backyard bug zapper because the flying insect population had grown exponentially over the past few warm weeks of our early spring. Electrical buzzing and popping punctuated the air around the patio as kamikaze bugs flew into the light.

No problem, right? Wrong. The dogs would not go into the yard because they had to pass by the crackling, sparking box that was suspended in the corner. It was yards away from their path and the zapper had been hanging there every day, but now it had come to life. It did not occur to me that there was a problem because there was no surprise for me. I had understanding of the situation. The dogs did not.

Nor did they understand the constant hammering this morning as a neighbor had a new roof put on their house. There was a strange noise. It didn’t stop. They could not see its source. Uh-oh, better not go out in the yard.

In each case, a little patient coaxing overcame the barriers. What helped most was when we walked ahead of them into the yard and let them follow us. As long as we were present and in the lead, everything was all right.

So when our scary shows up, we need to remember: God is present. He is leading. Follow Him.

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  Isaiah 41:13 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Being Bulldoggy

“Never give up, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” These words are attributed to Winston Churchill from a speech he gave at his alma mater, Harrow School, on October 29, 1941.

I admire Winston Churchill. He had a real bulldog presence about him. He even looked a little like a bulldog. That “never give up” business is hard though. I don’t enjoy hard. I like easy and even lazy on occasion.

That may be why the bulldogs came to us. My tendency to say, “Aw, so what?” when things got hard every once in a while cost me. It cost others.

I had a chance to give up on a small matter today, one that may have made no difference at all to anyone anywhere, now or ever. As is common in my current life, the chance to give up involved a bulldog.

Wiggles is the sweetest of our bulldogs, but she has a mind of her own when it comes to obedience. (Don’t we all?) She was out of her crate and it was necessary that she go into her crate because I was leaving and, since she is a trash diver and wire chewer and consumer of anything that comes near her mouth, it is never safe for her to be left to her own devices.


No amount of coaxing or commanding would move her into the crate. I pushed, patted, picked up her feet to put them over the threshold, and finally toyed with the idea of giving up and letting her stay out. But no, that would not do. She is a dog. I am in charge and no matter how many lazy, underdeveloped muscles of mine had to be exercised or strained, that bulldog was going into that crate. Never give up; never give in.

I am sure I looked stupid, picking up the dog’s feet, one at a time and placing them into the crate, only to have her withdraw the last one I put in so I had to start over again. By that time, bribery with a treat was out of the question. I’m not that big of a sucker. (Well, sometimes I have been, but I’m working on it.) The whole time, there was the nagging temptation – “Go ahead, quit trying, who cares? What’s the big deal if she’s out for an hour or so?”

The big deal was she was supposed to go in the crate. The big deal was I am in charge over a pack of bulldogs. The big deal was my way was the right way, the safer way.

Among the world’s great battles being fought today, private and public, this tiny trivial fight of mine with a bulldog and with my tendency to quit was nothing. Still, I had to talk myself through it. All of a sudden, the fight was over. Wiggles cast one more sidelong glance in my direction and walked into the crate.

Did I experience elation? A sense of victory? Excitement? No, just a quiet pride that I had done my duty in this smallest of tasks. I did not give up. I did not give in.

Now I have to finish my income tax return. Never give up. Never give in.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Private Property Law for Dogs 101

Dear Dogs of All Breeds and Varieties, but especially Bulldogs:

This is a basic short course on the private property rights of humans vis-à-vis canines and, to a lesser extent, the property rights of dogs vis-à-vis other dogs. None of these rules are binding in any jurisdiction except my house and my yard. And car. And tent. And anyplace else my property happens to be.


RULE #1 – LEAVE MY STUFF ALONE!                                                                                                           You will know it is my stuff if:

  • I am holding it (because jumping up and grabbing it out of my hand does not make it yours);
  • it smells even a little bit like me (even if it also smells a little bit like you and has dog hair all over it);
  • it is clothing (and you know good and well that dogs don’t wear clothing unless a human makes them);
  • it is a cup, empty or with any liquid or solid in it (Just because a cup looks like a little bowl does not mean you may shove your nose into it or take anything out of it.);
  • it is a plate ON A TABLE (and that includes anything on the plate ON A TABLE);
  • it is a foot covering for a human WHETHER THE HUMAN IS WEARING IT OR NOT; or
  • it is part of any collection that I use or own even if it looks like a dog toy or little stick. (Pens and pencils are not sticks and do not belong in your mouths.)

This list may be amended and/or updated as the items that you attempt to abscond with, sneak off with, steal, chew, sniff, throw up on, pee or poop on, eat, or otherwise show excessive interest in become known.

RULE #2 – UNLESS INVITED BY THE DOG, LEAVE OTHER DOGS’ STUFF ALONE!                                      You will know that you have been invited if:

  • The other dog brings you the toy and offers it to you by laying it down or shoving it in your face;
  • The toy is abandoned and no other dog is claiming it (“Abandoned” is defined as alone, muddy, trampled, and/or sometimes covered in slobber, urine, and/or feces. It is solely in your discretion whether to claim such a nasty thing or not.); or
  • The other dog comes up to you with the toy in his/her mouth and waits for you to take half of it in your mouth so that you can both run off together carrying the toy jointly. In such an event, you each share 50% of the toy until you don’t want it anymore and let go of it or until you both allow another dog(s) to share, in which case your ownership is reduced proportionally by the number of dogs running with the toy in their mouths.

Growling, threatening, or fighting over toys is not allowed and will result in the immediate removal of the toy(s) under dispute by a qualified, authorized human. Toys so removed may be returned after an appropriate cooling off period and upon petition to the human by the interested dog parties.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me for clarification.

To preserve good order and peace among humans and dogs, Dear Dogs, obey these rules.



©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.