Conversations with Stella – The Crying Sky

Me:        Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, is back for another conversation about her important question of the day. So what has you perturbed today, Stella?

Stella:   First of all, QUEEN STELLA to you. Others may call me “Your Majesty”.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:   The sky has been crying too much.

Me:        We have been having a wet spring.

Stella:   Why?

Me:        It would take a long to explain and I’m not sure you would understand. I ‘m not sure that I do. Some years are rainy and some are dry.

Stella:   Is the sky sad?

Me:        The sky doesn’t have emotions like that. There are a lot of things going on up there.

Stella:   Is the Creator angry? I heard the big booms over and over again the past few nights. And light was flashing outside.

Me:        Those were thunderstorms. The Creator is far more powerful than a thunderstorm. We can’t even imagine how powerful. If the Creator were angry with us, a thunderstorm would be the least of our concerns.

Stella:   It was scary.

Me:        But you were safe even though something scary was going on.

Stella:   Snoopey was so stupid. She started barking and all that did was make things louder.

Me:        The storms frighten her, too. She was just trying to warn us.

Stella:   Stupid Snoopey! Barking at the sky!

Me:        But you were scared, too.

Stella:   Yes, but I didn’t bark like a silly head. I hunkered down in my bed and covered my face like a smart dog. Lady Human, you talk to the Creator, don’t you?

Me:        Yes, it’s called prayer.

Stella:   I thought so because sometimes you are talking when no humans are around and you aren’t talking to me or the bulldogs. Or to that silly cat. Would you ask the Creator to stop the sky from crying so much and so loudly?

Me:        I’m not going to ask for the rain to stop. We need it for the lakes and rivers and fields. Summer is coming. But I can ask for moderate rain, not so much all at once.

Stella:   Is the Creator mean?

Me:        No, He is kind.

Stella:   Then why are there scary thunderstorms?

Me:        Maybe He allows them so we will remember to look up.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.






What Do You Mean My Bathroom Is Outside?

This is the messy saga of an uh-oh during the house training of Miss Sweetie.

Miss Sweetie is the other of Wiggles’ puppies that is with us and, as her name indicates, she is sweet. She is not as sharp a tack as her brother, Doodlebug, but that’s all right. She had no plans to go to Harvard anyway.

Unfortunately, she used her brain power to associate her crate with her bathroom. We tried all the suggested techniques for breaking this habit to no avail. We couldn’t figure out her schedule and she wasn’t giving us any clues.

We would spend up to half an hour outside, waiting for her to do her “business” while everyone else was doing theirs, and nothing. We would put her in her crate and, within five minutes, BINGO! She was probably wondering why we kept her outside when all she wanted to do was go into her crate to pee and poop.

About 25% of dogs surrendered to shelters are given up due to house training issues. That was not going to happen to Miss Sweetie. We are the humans. All we needed to do was pump up our brain power and walk in patience. Patience. It sounds so easy.

We reassessed our clumsy efforts by focusing on making sure the crate did not smell like a bathroom to her. It smelled fine to us, but she has a much better nose. Figuring out her body schedule, especially in the mornings, was the next challenge. After weeks of failure, BINGO! The good kind.

I took her outside earlier and by herself. That was a key. When she joined the others in the yard, she got distracted by all the play and never got down to business. When she was the only dog in the yard, she focused. She walked around, she sniffed, and BINGO!

With every success, we poured on immediate praise and watched for the brain change that would let us know that she no longer considered her crate her bathroom.

One day when she and Doodlebug were out together, Doodlebug obliged us with a potty visit of his own. We showered him with praise. Miss Sweetie walked up to us and stared. “Where are my head pets? Why aren’t you loving on me?” It was difficult to ignore her, but it was harder to walk in on her using her crate as a potty.

She looked at her brother for a second, walked over to where he had just peed, sniffed diligently, moved over three more feet, and right before our wondering eyes, she squatted and peed. BINGO! The brain/body connection was made. We instantly lavished her with praise. Miss Sweetie had just graduated to the next level of bathroom hygiene.

Her house training has been frustrating and long. But it wasn’t her fault; we had fouled up somewhere along the line. Yelling wouldn’t help it. I wouldn’t want someone yelling at me about that sort of thing.

It came down to consistency and patience – ours.

“…let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”                       James 1:4 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

I’m Not Asking. I’m Telling.

I’m not good at giving direct orders. My style is softer. (My kids would disagree with that, but this is my story so I am telling it my way.) I’m better at offering suggestions, even strong ones, or asking questions that point a discussion in the direction I believe it should go.

I am more successful at giving direct orders to the bulldogs. If humans did not take their authority seriously, I can see bulldogs taking over the world. If you think we are in trouble now, imagine the government in the paws and mouths of a gigantic pack of bulldogs. They would carry off and lose everything. None of us would ever be able to find our stuff. Even if we stumbled over any of it, it would be chewed up, wet, and dirty.

Having said that, I found myself falling into a bad habit around the dogs. I started asking them if something I wanted to do was “okay”. “I’m going to eat now, okay?” “I’m going to the store, okay?” “I’m just going to sit down and read a little, okay?”

Let’s be honest.  I was going to do what I needed or wanted to do no matter what the bulldogs thought about it, but my words betrayed a strange mindset that bothered me. I let the question bleed over into what the dogs were going to do. “Let’s go outside, okay?” You had better believe it’s okay. The days of pooping and peeing in the house are officially over. Understand? No, of course they don’t understand, not to the extent that I do.

And that’s my latest lesson from the bullies.

Bulldogs are stubborn. Bulldogs are pigheaded. Bulldogs are bullheaded. In a word, they’re bulldoggy. And there is something that they are not. They are not in charge.

When you are in charge, be in charge. You are going to bear the responsibility of it anyway, so DO IT. You don’t have to be mean. You don’t have to be rude. You don’t have to be abrupt. Those behaviors are counterproductive.

You do have to be decisive. You do have to act. You do have to be strong. You do have to carry through.

Why did the LORD introduce me to bulldogs? Because a teacup toy poodle would not have taught me some of the lessons that I needed to learn, lessons that apparently I could only learn through a pack of big, broad-shouldered, resistant, argumentative bulldogs. Again, why? Because I had become pretty resistant and argumentative myself toward God so He chose some bulldogs to break through to me.

I am in charge over a pack of Olde English Bulldogges. When it is time to go outside, “No” is not an option. I’m not asking; I’m telling. Okay? (Forgive me, LORD. This may take more time and practice.)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Sitting in Sunlight

The sun rules Texas skies on most days and we have to watch the bulldogs with special care during hot weather. This year, thus far, spring has been cool and kind. Summer is lurking though – in wet years, as heavy as a hot, damp blanket; in dry ones, a blasting breath like the opening of an oven door.

So while the temperatures remain reasonable, the bulldogs take advantage and sunbathe. Or cloud bathe, as they have done today.

Doodlebug never slows down long enough to soak up steady rays. He gets his on the run.

Stella is more interested in getting back inside to make sure her bed is still there. She does not do the sunbath thing like everyone else. “Why sit in the sun we are always trying to avoid?”  Stella is a pragmatist.

The skies have been clouded over for the past few days – an odd gray canopy. They broke this afternoon, too late for the sun to stream into the backyard, but the bulldogs don’t seem to mind. The sun is still shining, even if it isn’t beaming on them.

The clouds will return tonight, they tell us, along with storms that promise to be loud. About midnight, they tell us.  I pray that we’ll all be able to get some sleep. I know people who sleep through storms. I’ve slept through  a few myself.

Just now, the sun is shining. And the bulldogs are happy. And so am I.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Bark at the TV

I have always watched television. My father told me that from the time I could stand, I would place myself right in front of the bulky old screen and stare at the black-and-white images that danced across it.

Over the years, I have cut back on my television viewing. I limit myself now to a few series and some old movies. The dogs are pretty much always in the room where our only television sits and so they get exposed to whatever we are watching.

Most of the time, they aren’t watching, but when a dog on the TV barks, they are on their feet in an instant. The probability of my quieting them in less than ten minutes is just about nil, so I usually have to pause whatever is on and wait them out.

I remember watching the old Gary Cooper movie, Friendly Persuasion, when a scene with a honking goose showed up. Boy howdy, that was a major barking event. Nobody believed me when I told them that it was just a goose in a movie.  “IT’S ON THE TV! IT’S ON THE TV!” Why did I bother to repeat myself? They heard the goose (which probably went to its reward decades ago – that movie was released in 1956) and jumped right into the conversation.

I know good and well that nothing has ever come busting through that screen in spite of what horror movie producers would have us believe. You wouldn’t be able to tell that from listening to our dogs.

Their bulldog barking is silly, loud, and disruptive. Nobody on the TV can even hear them.

So why do I bark at the TV?

Yes, I have caught myself standing in front of the screen, talking (loudly), laying out my “perfect” wisdom to someone on television who cannot hear me or see me (unless there really are secret cameras and microphones embedded, but I won’t speculate about that), and likely wouldn’t care a jot if they could.

At least the dogs have an excuse. They are dogs. When it comes to understanding television broadcasts, they don’t have the sense that God gave a goose, on screen or off. But what about me? I should know better than to argue with an image.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Conversations with Stella – My Beautiful Bed, Goodbye!

Me:        Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, is frustrated and sad. She is going through a mini crisis.

Stella:   Mini? You mean like those little dachshunds. No, not mini! Biggy! A biggy sad!

Me:        Okay, a biggy sad. Why don’t you explain?

Stella:   My bed! My wonderful, perfect bed! The one Tall Man gave me the first night I came here to my new home. It’s ….gone! Destroyed! Life will never be the same!

Me:        And how did it come to be destroyed so suddenly?

Stella:   Mmmmm, not sure.

Me:        Mmmmm, think about it.

Stella:   Well, my fancy Nylabone was stuck under my bed and it refused to come out when I called it so I could chew on it and I got more and more frustrated and I started pawing at the pad and I kept on and on…and before I knew it, a big hole…just appeared…and stuffing came out…and….AAAAWWWWGHH! The floor to my beautiful bed was GONE!


Me:        Do you understand how the big hole happened?

Stella:   AAAAWWWWGHH! No!

Me:        The beds are not meant to be pawed and pawed like that. You have to be gentle with them.

Stella:   AAAAWWWWGHH! But I’m a bulldog!

Me:        At least I got your Nylabone untangled.

Stella:   Yes…thank you. Chewing on it made me feel better.

Me:        Hey, I gave you another bed.

Stella:   It’s not the same.

Me:        It’s the same size by the same company.

Stella:   Not the same. Doesn’t smell like me.

Me:        It will. Honestly, it probably already does.

Stella:   Not the same. My beautiful bed had dog memories. I had some great dreams in that bed. Running, barking, chasing the cat. Gone. All gone.

Me:        You will enjoy new dreams.

Stella:   How would you feel if your bed was destroyed?

Me:        I would have to get another and break it in, get used to it, but it would be all right.

Stella:   Your bed must not be as special as mine was.

Me:        Special? I don’t know. It’s comfortable.

Stella:   AAAAWWWWGHH! You don’t understand!

Me:        Well, I am going to try to fix your old bed. I am going to sew a new floor into it so you will still have the same bolster all the way around it on which to rest your head.

Stella:   You can do that? Really?

Me:        I can try. I have some fabric that might work. Even for a bulldog.

Stella:   When? When? When?

Me:        Give me a few days. I’m going to have to stitch it by hand.

Stella:   Lady Human, if there is anything good that I can ever do for you, just let me know.

Me:        You can keep from clawing up the floor of your bed in the future. As for anything else, well, Stella, I think you’ve already done it.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Be A Mule

I wish that I had a decent picture of Doodlebug, the Olde English Bulldogge 7-month old puppy, but he won’t sit or stand still long enough for an amateur like me to snap one. The photo above is pretty much what he looks like all the time – a shiny, black, four-legged smear in the lens, in perpetual motion.

Wiggles’ son, Doodlebug, plows through the world with no sense of caution. He is a sixty-four pound dynamo. Nothing stands in his way. Well, not much. I try and sometimes I succeed – sort of. He still can’t bust through solid walls. Thankfully, he is smart enough not to try.

In fact, he is one very smart dog. My son was cleaning his crate and he put a lead on Doodlebug to limit his interference with the chore. My son tied the lead to another crate with a simple knot and went on with his cleaning. When he turned around, Doodlebug was working the knot loose with his teeth. In less than a minute, the puppy had untied himself.

Doodlebug is also one of two dogs with us able to open an unlocked door by pulling down on a door handle. His mom, Wiggles, is the other one.

Smart? Yes!

Handsome? Yes!

Bulldoggy in the extreme? Yes, bulldoggy as all get-out!

A simple trip to the backyard turns into a wrestling match as Doodlebug simply must smell everything on the way to the door AND he must turn aside to see everything along the path. Our philosophy with the dogs is that outdoor bathroom business comes first; all else can wait until the return trip. Doodlebug disagrees.

I don’t know how much force a 64 pound bulldog pulling with all of his might exerts. I’m not that good at math. I only know that since I started walking Doodlebug on a lead, I no longer need free weights to work out my arms.

Doodlebug is the bulldoggiest bulldog I have yet seen.  His motto is “MY WAY, PERIOD. ANY QUESTIONS? WHO CARES?”

And there before me is yet another living example of how we must seem to God when we are insisting on our own way. When I see it in front of my own eyes, it helps me see it in myself.

Persistence is good. Perseverance is fine. Endurance is strength.

But pure old bullheaded mulishness for the sake of being like a mule? There are far better things on which I can spend my muscle power than pulling against God.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” Psalm 32:8-9 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog – So Much Rudeness, So Little Time

Hello again! I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges.

Let me plunge right into my List of Offenders. I have not updated it for a while and, as a result, the list is longer this time. In order from least to most offensive:

  • Me – that’s right. Good ole Stella. I have been perfect this week – quiet, obedient, undemanding. I definitely deserve more treats than I have received. I will speak to Lady Human about that later.
  • Moon the Cat – I have to be honest. It hurts to admit it, but Moon the Cat was better behaved this week than any of the bulldogs, other than me, of course. The only thought that gives me comfort is that the situation will not last. Why? Because CAT!
  • Tiger – You silly thing, you are still challenging Snoopey, just not so often. I see you prancing…yes, prancing…past Snoopey, hoping to provoke her. And you are still barking at Lady Human when she is busy with mysterious human behavior. Tiger, be more considerate of Lady Human’s time. Hey, she wasn’t petting any of the rest of us either.
  • Snoopey – Please stop sticking your lower lip out in that pitiful way and making that high-pitched ruh-ruh-ruh whiny noise from your throat. We know what you’re up to, Attention-Grabber.
  • Squawker the Silkie Chicken – I know you are a chicken and your brain is not as big as mine, but PLEASE, if there is no emergency, STOP THE SQUAWKING! You are the only one doing it. How would you like it if I stood by your chicken run and barked and barked and barked all the live long day? Get the picture? I don’t mind if you ladies cluck quietly among yourselves, just keep it down.
  • WIGGLES! – If I were a human, I would scream. Wiggles, if it’s time to go in your crate, GO IN! Stop arguing about everything. Just because you are a bulldog, you don’t have to be bulldoggy all the time. It is unbecoming. But worse than that, when Lady Human turned her back, YOU PEED IN THE HALL…ON THE BEAN BAG CHAIR!!! That’s where we play with Lady Human! Hey, I like to sit on that chair myself. Well, I used to like it. Now I may not ever be able to make myself sit on it again. And why? You had just been outside for…I don’t know…I can’t tell time, but it was a long while. This is what comes of the humans always saying “Oh, what a sweet dog you are, Wiggles” and “Wiggles, what a good dog!” This will teach them. Peeing indoors is not “sweet” or “good”, Wiggles. If you absolutely have to pee, at least keep in off the furniture and on the floor.

As you can see, people, it was a difficult week to be the queen. Thank you for your kind attention.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





Conversations with Stella – Chicken! Hush Your Squawking!

Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, and I are here again to discuss what Stella thinks is the topic of the day. Though this subject will never make the front page of the New York Times or any other page, Stella likes to keep her interests close to home and personal.

Stella:   If it doesn’t involve me, it is not interesting.

Me:        That is a self-centered approach to life.

Stella:   Exactly. You understand.

Me:        That was not a compliment.  On to your question.

Stella:   A hen outside squawks very loudly. She is annoying. You know that I don’t like annoying. I told her to be quiet, but she just looked at me like I was crazy and kept up the noise.

Me:        She probably doesn’t speak bulldog well. I heard her, too. I shushed her, but she didn’t listen to me either. She paused for a few seconds and then started up again.

Stella:   What is her problem? That noise is so rude.

Me:        Her squawking is akin to your barking.

Stella:   It is not. Chickens are not related to bulldogs. Look at us. Strong. Magnificent.  Look at them. Silly. Fluffy. And they walk funny.

Me:        They are likely thinking that same about you. Not the fluffy part. But silly, yeah. And you do tend to sashay when you walk, Stella. You know, the chickens have been with us a whole year now.

Stella:   I remember when they came. They were tiny little peepers. There was not a loud squawker among them. What happened?

Me:        They grew up, just like puppies do.

Stella:   Puppies don’t grow up to squawk. They learn to bark. Barking is noble. Chicken squawking is a horrible noise.

Me:        You have complained about Tiger and Wiggles barking.

Stella:   Only when they weren’t saying anything useful. Now about this chicken problem.

Me:        Occasionally, chickens squawk when they lay an egg. She’ll quiet down after it’s not such a big deal to her anymore. Or she may be bossing another hen around. They will sort that out in the pecking order. Sort of like your bulldog pack order.

Stella:   Did you say ‘egg’?

Me:        Yes.

Stella:   Eggs are food.

Me:        Yes.

Stella:   I should eat the eggs.

Me:        No, that’s not part of your diet. Remember when you had all the itchy patches.

Stella:   When I hear the squawking, I will run to check for eggs.

Me:        No, you won’t. You can’t get to them anyway.

Stella:   I will befriend Squawker and she will hand them to me.

Me:        I seriously doubt that.

Stella:   Wait! Do chickens lay eggs the way dogs lay puppies? Are you eating their babies? No!!! No wonder they’re squawking! I would squawk!

Me:        Don’t worry. These eggs will never turn into baby chicks. There is no rooster.

Stella:   We should have a rooster then.

Me:        If you don’t like squawking, I can guarantee you won’t like what a rooster does. Meanwhile, go use your Stella power on the squawking hen the way you do when you change Wiggles’ mind by looking her in the eye.

Stella:   I will try, but I have to be careful. Chicken brains are so small. My bulldog brain superpower might melt them.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.






Stella’s Blog – If Only I Had Hands

Hello, people! I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. My transcriptionist has promised not to interrupt my blog this time.

(Transcriptionist: Unless absolutely necessary.)

That was an interruption. What is it that the baseball people say? STRIKE ONE!

I pay much attention to the humans and what they do. Here are some of the things I have noticed:

They balance on only two legs. Amazing! (Shhh! Don’t tell them how impressed I am. Oh, that’s right. Lady Human is my transcriptionist. Well then, truthfully, I am not all that impressed.)

They have boxes that roll on wheels so that we can go places. They don’t even have to run with their feet to make it go. We can all go without using our legs to push it.

Best of all, they have these wonderful long things on the ends of their arms called “hands” and they can do just about anything with them.

Think of all the things that I could do if I had hands.

I could take the little black box and push the buttons to make the TV louder or quieter when I want to. And I could watch MY favorite shows, not the annoying ones that the humans pick.

I could turn the knobs on the doors to enter and leave whatever room whenever. The whole house – all for me!

I could turn on and drive the big box with the wheels. Where would I go? I have no idea. Probably not very far because I don’t know how to drive and my legs aren’t long enough to reach the speed pedals on the box’s floor.

I could open the treat bags and pick out my favorite flavor whenever I would like. No more waiting on the humans to clue in that “Treat Time” is all the time.

But a bulldog dream is all that is. We still have to depend on the humans. Maybe that is one reason that the Great Creator made us without hands so that the humans would have to extend their hands to us.

Oh, well…Until next time, I remain

Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

We Don’t Need No Clocks!

Since a very young age, my daily life has run to the movement of a clock. Time to wake up, time to go to bed, time to go to school, time to go to work, time to go to church, time to go home. Even time to watch my favorite TV shows.

In the old, old days, people had sundials and, before that, they had the sun itself along with the moon and the patterned stars that counted the time as Earth twirled in a trustworthy rhythm on its axis. I believe those may have been steadier, more peaceable days.

Honestly, clocks kind of tick me off. (Sorry for the pun.)

I lose count of how many times a day I check a clock. Am I on time? Am I running late? Where did the day go? I should know. I was there the whole time. My attention to the clock has cost me time by sucking away my focus from where I should have been looking.

Our dogs do very well without clocks, thank you. They carry timers in their stomachs. Brunch is to be served at 11 a.m. precisely, seven days a week. And we had better not be late because massive hubbub ensues if we miss it by even a couple of minutes.

Foot-stomping, loud yawns, strange bulldog vocalizations. And then – BARKING! My interpretation of the mess call goes like this: “Hey! Did y’all forget something? Food! Food! Food!”

Our dog’s internal clocks are never off. They never have to be wound nor have their batteries changed. They are organic, the way I would like for my clocks to be.

“Oh, is it time to eat? My stomach just said so.”

 “How long until sunset? Long enough to play one more round of keep away.”

 “How many minutes are left for nap time? Wait, what’s a minute?”

 I understand. Clocks are human tools. I am a human. I will continue to use our tools. Still, it’s nice every once in a while to think, “What time is it?” and answer, “I don’t care.”

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” Genesis 1:14 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





Stella’s Blog – Humans. Why?

Hello! I am Stella, the Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. (Let’s wait a few moments to see if my transcriptionist will interrupt to say something like, “No, you’re not the queen” or “self-styled”. I don’t know what “self-styled” means, but I am sure that it is rude.)

Okay, no interruption so far. Please join me for MY blog. Today’s topic: Humans. Why?

I discussed a similar question with my blog post entitled “Why Did God Make Cats?”

The existence of humans is not nearly as confusing as the existence of cats. Actually, I still have no answer for why cats should exist. That one may be a long time in coming, but I believe the Creator will help me to understand someday. I am sure He had His reasons.

Humans are an easier question because they actually do stuff that helps dogs. (Can cats truthfully say that?)

Here’s a short list of how humans help us:





Did I mention food?

(Transcriptionist: Stella, you’re repeating yourself.)

Ah, our first interruption. MY BLOG, MY RULES. Where was I?




What else?

Softy toys – Humans don’t really have to make them in the shape of pink and blue dogs and red lobsters. We are not fooled. We know that they are not real. People think we are stupid. Here’s a secret: We’re not the ones making pink and blue wiener dogs that don’t even have any wieners in them. Where are the wieners, humans?

Chew toys – Great for relaxing after a long day, though for many, many thousands of years, we dogs have provided our own chew toys in the form of sticks.

Soft beds – What a wonderful invention. Perfect for lazy dogs. And the humans can use them, if there is enough room.

Love – did I say that?

(Transcriptionist: Yes, you did, you sweet, smooshy- faced, old thing,)

 Well, I didn’t mean to. It just slipped out. And now you’ve gone and called me those mushy names. Please stop it. I just meant that the head pets are nice and the belly rubs. But stay away from that hugging business.

So do humans serve a purpose? The Great Creator must have thought so. (Of course, He made cats, too, and I still don’t understand that.)

They keep telling me that dog is man’s best friend.  Maybe the humans are ours.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Where Did the Treats Go? – Conversations with Stella

I am back for another conversation with Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge….

Stella:  Ahem…Queen Stella.

Me:        Ahem?

Stella:   That’s what you say when you want to interrupt politely.

Me:        I don’t believe that I have ever said “ahem” in my life.

Stella:   Exactly. I was trying to be polite. Most humans just blurt stuff out.

Me:        I’ve heard plenty of bulldogs just “blurt” stuff out. Back to the point, what is your question this time?

Stella:   Where did the treats go?

Me:        What treats?

Stella:   Yes.

Me:        There aren’t any treats.

Stella:   I agree.

Me:        I get it. There haven’t been as many over the past few days and you noticed.

Stella:   Thank you! Now we are in the same crate!

Me:        I believe the human expression you want to use is “now we are on the same page”.

Stella:   What’s a “page”?

Me:        Never mind. You observed correctly. There have been treats, but fewer of them.

Stella:   Why?

Me:        They were all gone at the store.

Stella:   Have you called the police?

Me:        No, they weren’t stolen. The store just ran out of our brand. They’re waiting for more to come.

Stella:   How could such a thing happen?

Me:        Easily. More people are buying them…

Stella:   Why are people eating our treats? They get their own human treats, the ones that they are always hiding from us. Leave our treats alone!

Me:        The humans aren’t buying your treats for themselves. They are getting them for their own dogs.

Stella:   What! Other dogs are eating our treats? How could you let them do that? Stop them!

Me:        Hey, didn’t I share one of my apple chicken sausages with you all this week? One that I cooked for myself?

Stella:   Yesss…

Me:        And wasn’t it good?

Stella:   Yesss… Will we ever see them again?

Me:        Perhaps.

Stella:   When? When? When?

Me:        When we all develop a little more patience?

Stella:   Is that something else the store is out of?



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Yuck! What Are You Chewing?

Like many animals, like many humans, our bulldogs explore the world with their mouths. Next to their noses and their eyes, their tongues tell them a lot about the goodness of life.

So why did I find Miss Sweetie, one of Wiggles’ almost grown puppies, chewing on a twisted piece of wire this morning?

She didn’t just happen to find the wire. She had to work for it. She had wrenched it from the screen covering for the small fire pit in the patio. I found her standing on top of the cold fire pit with the steel framed cover in her mouth, jerking it back and forth. And then she dropped it. And that’s when the chewing began.

I dug my fingers into her wide bulldoggy mouth and felt around until I located the foreign object. I am glad that the dogs we have to deal with don’t mind that kind of attention. I never fear being bitten. I am equally glad that I don’t get grossed out by bulldog mouth slime.

The twisted wire I removed from her mouth formed a figure eight, sort of, about half an inch long. I refused to let myself imagine what might have happened had I not been there to retrieve it and Miss Sweetie had swallowed it. She didn’t. I was there. Praise the LORD!

The question I did ask myself (not Miss Sweetie – she doesn’t answer my questions) is what was the big attraction? She had just had breakfast. She has a really cool Nylabone chew toy that she acts as though she enjoys. She loves sticks to carry around to drop in random places and there were plenty of various sized sticks around the yard.

So when you have been given all these things, why fight a screen cover to wrest a bit of wire off? Fire-scorched, dirty, ash-covered, crumpled wire. Can it really be that interesting? Does it really taste that good?

I suspect that Miss Sweetie is a wire-chewer like her mom. Wiggles has single-pawed been responsible for more wire and phone charger damage in the house than all the other dogs put together. Still there are far fresher wires to engage in a good round of old-fashioned chewing than what Miss Sweetie picked.

Maybe it was the challenge. Maybe it was the fight. No, you old screen! You’re not going to defeat me!

I’ve fallen into those habits myself. I have overeaten. “Just one more bite. I can’t leave that piece on the plate.”

I have put stuff in my mouth that barely passed muster as food.

My teeth have pulled and torn beef jerky apart that probably could have hauled a car.

I need to be more careful about what I put in my mouth.

I need to be more careful about what I chew on – physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Not everything digests well. Not everything is meant to go on the inside.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Ouch! Don’t Stick Me With That!

We have been blessed with great veterinarians over the years and especially so since the bulldogs came. All of our dogs before that lived boring lives with fairly routine health issues. It takes guts to have bulldogs and it takes guts to be a vet that cares for their medical needs, which can be many.

Vets that come across bulldogs in their practices have to figure out mysteries, such as:

Is this a food allergy ailment? Will a simple change of diet solve it?

Why is this skin condition still not resolved? We’ve tried everything.

How can this anaerobic bacteria  be cleared from this wounded dog?

How many antibiotics can we use before antibiotic resistance becomes one of the                   problems?

We have dealt with all of the above issues with the help of our vets. Today’s issue was average, normal, ordinary.

We have two of Wiggles’ puppies and they needed rabies vaccinations.

Thank the LORD for the development of a vaccination against rabies. Can you imagine what life was like before that? There are still a lot of threats out there for humans and animals, but rabies does not have to be one of them anymore.

So we took the little boogers to be vaccinated against rabies. They already had all the other vaccinations and now they were old enough for THE BIG ONE, the one that must be administered by a licensed veterinarian, the one that is required by law in our state.

I think one of the great things about being a dog is the whole “live in the moment” experience. I have spent much of my thought life in the past and much of it in the future. Moments pass by me without notice. What happened yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or decades ago?

As if that were not enough, my mind races toward the future. What about this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow morning? What about next Thursday? What about summer? What about fall? Really? I haven’t even finished supper.

Those puppies (64 pound puppies, mind you) only wiggled and waggled and tried to play with every dog that came in the vet’s door. They weren’t worried beyond being a tad bit curious about what was going on. But they did not worry in anticipation over the shot. And when the shot came, there was not a whimper, not a cry, not a scared look on either face. “What was that? A little prick near my shoulder. Whatever. No big deal. Who’s barking outside? Have we met them yet? Does anybody have a snack?”

 I should be so calm. I should be so focused on the moment. Today. Not tomorrow, not next week, next month, or next year.

Today’s lesson for the human – be a little more like a dog. Live right now.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  (Matthew 6:34 KJV)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Whatever You Do With It, Don’t Leave It in the Yard

Our bulldogs are grabbers. If an item smells good…or bad, is small and nonthreatening, and just happens to be laying out of the reach of a human hand, it’s fair game. Grab it and run. That’s one of their many bulldoggy mottoes.

On more than one occasion, I have forgotten to bring my chicken feed scoop in from the yard after using it to feed the hens. I leave it sitting on a chair or on the chicken house while I am handling another chore and flat forget about it when I go in.

One day, it showed up in a bulldog’s mouth. In Wiggles’ mouth to be precise. She is forever on the lookout for discarded items. Teeth marks punctuated the open rim, but it was still fully functional. I had retrieved it just in time. Then I forgot it again and that time the handle was partially crushed. It was still fully functional and you will not find me throwing out a useful article for the sake of cosmetic blemishes.

The rule around here is, if you want it intact, don’t leave it in the yard. Even on a window sill, even on top of the barbeque grill, not anywhere, not for any length of time. One of the dogs will find it. One of the dogs will carry it off in a big bulldog maw.

A neighbor got on the Nextdoor app last night, asking everyone around our road to keep a lookout for a drone that her brother had been flying in their yard. A strong wind rose up and carried the drone away in our direction. The request came in late and I didn’t see the message until after midnight. I am all for helping out neighbors, but I couldn’t picture myself walking around in the dark in the wee morning hours looking for the red and blue flashing lights on a missing drone.

And then the awful thought came – what if the drone landed in our backyard?

What if the bulldogs find it first?

Poor drone!

But it still had a chance if it fell back there. The dogs do not go out late and would not go out again until after daylight. And a drone might freak them out so that, instead of wanting to eat it, they might just run away from it.

So I am keeping my eyes open today for a stray drone that may be resting in our yard somewhere. Thus far, no bulldog has been seen carrying debris and no dog has come streaking back to the house in terror. It is probably not on our property. I do hope the neighbors find it.

I can’t count on our bulldogs to turn into a search and rescue team though.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Don’t Mad-Dog Me! Keep Your Eyes to Yourself

Dogs are visual creatures and so bulldogs are visual creatures times 10. (That ten-fold estimate is just my best guess. It could run higher.)

Bulldogs are lots of things including funny, roly-poly, barrel-shaped, broad-shouldered, and good natured. Oh, and one more thing.

They are intense.

I have seen Stella go from a relaxed state with her tongue lolling out of her mouth to an alert, perked-eared, quivering-lipped, wound-up spring of a dog in one second because the cat walked across the path of her eyes.

I have witnessed a resting Snoopey, completely stretched out, jump to her feet because she caught Tiger looking in her direction and they locked eyes. A threatening stare between humans is called “mad-dogging”. If you ever see it in person between dogs, you’ll agree it’s aptly named.

Wiggles, on the other hand, avoids lots of bulldog intensity by averting her eyes. She’ll glance into my face, make eye contact, and then look away. She does it with the other dogs, too. Her message: Hey, I just want to enjoy myself. I don’t want to make you mad. I don’t want to start a fight. I won’t trespass into your eyeball territory.

Make no mistake. Wiggles is no pushover when the push does occasionally come to the shove. But she senses that she shouldn’t be mad-dogging anybody. She focuses her eyes on something more interesting, more peaceable.  Sadly for me (who has to clean it up), once in a while, that neutral object is trash.

So the good ole bulldogs have presented me with another example of what not to do.

Don’t keep staring at the wrong things. Stop focusing on what stirs you up, makes you angry, or gets you in a tizzy. (Boy, that just cut way back on my news viewing.) And stop minding everybody else’s business. Mind your own.

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


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





VOTE FOR ME! – Conversations with Stella

Me:        With me once again is Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge.

Stella:   Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

Me:        So called.

Stella:   Jealous.

Me:        You had a question about what the humans have been doing this week.

Stella:   Why have the humans been talking so much in the yards this week? You and Tall Man and the neighbors?

Me:        You noticed that?

Stella:   Next Door Man’s dogs stayed all stirred up, barking the only way they ever do – loud and obnoxious. I think that they are not very smart. They repeat themselves a lot. I peeked through the fence while I was in the yard. You humans were talking and talking and did not seem very happy.

Me:        We were talking about politics. A big vote is coming up next fall.

Stella:   Mmmmm. When the air is cooler. Because you can’t vote when the weather is hot. That makes good sense. Hot humans don’t know what they are doing.

Me:        I don’t think the heat has much to do with that.

Stella:   I remember what you said about voting. I still don’t like it. I think voting is a dumb idea that humans made up so they can meet in yards and talk too much and too loud, like Next Door Man’s dogs do. Then the humans get hot and do other dumb things like cooking delicious meat outside and dropping it on the ground and throwing it away instead of giving it to me.

Me:        That was an accident. Tall Man felt badly about that, but the meat was too dirty to give to you or the others.

Stella:   No dropped meat is ever too dirty. That’s what tongues are for.

Me:        Yuck.

Stella:   So the humans don’t like voting either.

Me:        We don’t like some of the choices.

Stella:   So vote for yourself.

Me:        It takes more than one vote normally.

Stella:   I am the Queen. I can change that.

Me:        Nope. It’s a human thing. And I haven’t noticed you changing any bulldog things around here, Your Highness.

Stella:   Finally! Some respect! Bulldogs! Vote for me and you will see things change.

Me:        Like what?

Stella:   Long naps every afternoon.

Me:        You all already do that.

Stella:   Double food portions.

Me:        So you can get fat.

Stella:   No more nail trimming for us.

Me:        Bad plan in the long term.


Me:        That’s what they all say.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog – Quick! Hide the Food!

Hello! I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, here to pass along a warning to all humans who need to eat food.

(Transcriptionist: That would be every human, just as it would be every dog.)

Once again, my transcriptionist has interrupted my blog. How would one of your human Big Barkers on television feel about that, if you interrupted them as much as you interrupt me?

(Transcriptionist: Maybe some Big Barkers on television should be interrupted. It might help them think things through before they bark.)

I will be happy to do that for them sometime, but right now I want to blog. As I was saying before I was interrupted, food is important to all of us and you must warned against leaving your food unguarded. Tiger, Wiggles, and Snoopey will steal it if given half a chance.

(Transcriptionist: Now I must interrupt. The only place that Tiger, Wiggles, or Snoopey would even have the opportunity to steal food is in our house or yard. No one else is in danger of losing anything to them.)

What if they go walking with you or Tall Man? What if a visitor comes in with a big bread and meat chunk in his hand?

(Transcriptionist: A sandwich?)

Is that the thing with delicious meat hiding between two bread pieces that sometimes has grass and slimy but mouth-watering yellow and red goop on the meat and the humans carry it in their hands and shove it into their mouths without sharing?

(Transcriptionist: Not grass – lettuce. Not yellow and red goop – mustard and ketchup. Yes, that is a sandwich and we do not have to share. Some of that stuff may not even be good for a dog.)

I shall be the judge of that.

(Transcriptionist: Nope.)

My warning stands. If you see Tiger, Wiggles, or Snoopey anywhere near your food, humans, HIDE IT FROM THEM IMMEDIATELY! They will snatch it whether you are looking or not. They will not ask permission. Suddenly, it will just be gone and all you will see is lip-licking. Then it will be too late, and you will be sorry that your delicious food ended up in their mouths. They may not say “thank you” either. That is just how rude they are.

 (Transcriptionist: Have you ever snatched human food?

Mwahhh.  I respect human plates. But remember the time that you had your plate on your lap and Snoopey ran and jumped on you and knocked it off and it went all over the floor! That was so funny… rude but funny… okay, just rude. The next time that happens, you can let me clean it up for you. It would be my pleasure.

 Farewell, humans. Thank you for your kind attention to this public service announcement.

 Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.







Watch Where You Step

Pooper scoopers are one of the truly great inventions of the past century. They are a real necessity if you have more than one bulldog. Or even if you have only one bulldog. With one-handed operation, the pooper scooper “bites” the poop from off the ground. The same hand can open it and dispose of the poop in the trash receptacle of your choice without direct contact. Done and done!

Of course, I have seen a bulldog accomplish the same thing, only the poop doesn’t get deposited in a trash can. Wiggles is particularly adept at poop disposal. I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say that every once in a while she darts away and refuses all orders to return until, well, she returns “empty-handed”, so to speak. Also good at trash diving, Wiggles is our waste disposal specialist.

Poop scooping aside, we still have to watch our step in the yard. Dogs can be selective about their bathroom spots and go out of their way to stay out of our way. A couple of ours prize convenience. They step out the door, walk a few feet, sniff the air, and say,”Yep! Here!”

I have learned to watch my step, even away from the bulldogs. If I’m not paying attention, it’s way too easy to “step” into something that is nasty and smells bad. And that odor follows you around until it gets washed off, sometimes with a power hose.

And if you aren’t careful, you can smear that mess onto other people and things. I remember when I was very young, we were leaving my grandparent’s house. I was all dressed up and was wearing a beloved red coat. Once in the car, we started noticing an odor and pretty quickly, my parents discovered that I had stepped in dog poop. It was on my lovely, little patent leather shoes and ON MY RED COAT!

Everything had to be thoroughly cleaned. I never looked at my red coat quite the same way again. And I had no idea that I had stepped in something stinky until we got closed up with it.

Pooper scoopers can’t handle a lot of the filthy stuff that gets left in our paths. For that stuff, we have to watch where we step.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.