Wait on Me – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges.

Me:        If you say so.

Stella:    I do. And I am thirsty. Give me a drink.

Me:        That is a rude way to ask for something, Stella. And your water bowl is full. Drink your water.

Stella:    I want what you are having.

Me:        I am taking a swig of coffee before I have to go.

Stella:    What is a swig? I want a swig.

Me:        A swig is just a quick sip. And you can’t have coffee. Do you want me to leave the television on? I’ll only be out for about an hour. Everybody else is napping.

Stella:    Will there be zombies?

Me:        No. I can leave it on this station. They will just be showing old westerns.

Stella:    That man on the Picture Box. What is he drinking?

Me:        Since that is a saloon, I’m guessing it’s whiskey.

Stella:    I want a swig of whiskey.

Me:        Nope. No way. Not now. Not ever.

Stella:    You are a terrible waitress.

Me:        I beg your pardon.

Stella:    You have it, but I will not be leaving a tip.

Me:        Okay, too many movies. Honey, this is not a restaurant. I am not your waitress.

Stella:    Of course, you are. We call. You come. You bring us food. You bring us water. You clean out our water bowls. You wipe our faces. You clean our ears…

Me:        Hold on a minute. I have never heard of a waitress who cleaned customers’ ears or wiped their faces.

Stella:    You haven’t been to very good restaurants then. All bulldog restaurants offer that service. Like this one.

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill

 

Debate! Bulldog Style! – Conversations with Stella

I, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, hereby command all humans to BE SILENT!

Me:        What is this about?

Stella:    Who were those loud people that Tall Man was listening to last night?

Me:        Loud people?

Stella:    They talked and talked, on and on and on. It sounded like an argument. A boring human argument that went on and on and on…

Me:        Oh, that was a debate between political candidates.

Stella:    You didn’t listen to it.

Me:        No, I was tired and a political debate was only going to make me more so.

Stella:    Political debate? What is ‘political debate’?

Me:        You know how you and the other bulldogs get face-to-face and huff and puff and rumble and growl at each other…

Stella:    …and spit and go stiff-legged and tremble. Yes. Fun! Exciting!

Me:        Especially when two of you are vying for a position in the pack.

Stella:    You mean those two humans are fighting to become pack leader?

Me:        Yeah, you might say so.

Stella:    I did say so. I didn’t know that humans chose pack leaders that way, too.

Me:        Well, humans don’t bare their teeth and snort the way bulldogs do. No, wait. I take that back.

Stella:    Humans snort? That’s great! Show me!

Me:        I’m not big into snorting.

Stella:    Then you may never be pack leader among the humans. That is a shame.

Me:        Having spent some time now as human pack leader among the bulldogs, I’m not sure I have enough energy left over to handle humans, too.

Stella:    Will there be more political debates?

Me:        So I understand.

Stella:    Can Tall Man turn down the sound next time? The noise hurts my ears.

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

You’re All Wet! – Conversations with Stella

I AM STELLA, QUEEN OF THE OLDE ENGLISH BULLDOGGES! HERE ME ROAR!

Me:        Is that what that noise was? I thought you were choking on something. What a relief!

Stella:    Silence, peasant!

Me:        Excuse me?

Stella:    You are excused.

Me:        Stella, remember? “No rude, no crude, no bulldog mood.”

Stella:    Yes, I remember. Sounds like something a human would say.

Me:        It is.

Stella:    You are all wet. You are dripping on the floor. How come?

Me:        Miss Sweetie and I had a difference of opinion about whether or not she would take a bath. I won. And I lost.

Stella:    Hahaha! Well, she does smell better. So I think we all won. But you are still all wet.

Me:        I’ll dry out. One of the great things about being human is our ability to change clothes. One of the great things about wrestling Miss Sweetie over a bath is that I get a wonderful physical workout. 70 pounds of bulldog pulling this way and that makes me work for my victory.

Stella:    Any day Miss Sweetie smells good is a victory for all of us. Congratulations!

Me:        That reminds me. You are about due for a bath yourself.

Stella:    Whaaagggttt? Naw. It wasn’t that long ago. You are all wet.

Me:        So if I dry out and give you a bath, you are saying that I will be all wet again?

Stella:    Well, not on purpose. But yes, on purpose. Have you seen my shake and roll?

Me:        Uh-huh.

Stella:    I can sling it. Yeah, I can. Do you doubt it?

Me:        Nope.

Stella:    I am going to get a bath, am I not?

Me:        Yep. And that’s not a bad thing, my friend.

Stella:    It’s all right in the aftermath. Or afterbath.

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge’s Queen. I am demanding an answer from Lady Human.

Me:        Yes, you are demanding.

Stella:    Is that a human insult?

Me:        No, it is a human observation.

Stella:    Well, I have a bulldog observation. Humans say frightening things.

Me:        Like what?

Stella:    I heard young humans saying it:

What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and PUPPY DOGS’ TAILS

Human boys are made of the tails of puppies!

Me:        Now, Stella…

Stella:    Don’t you Stella me! The young humans were playing a game and they said it over and over. So that is how you humans get more boys. You take the tails of innocent puppies. It makes me cry.

Me:        Stella, it is a children’s silly rhyme from almost two hundred years ago. Children like rhymes. So do I. They are rhythmic and easy to remember and fun and they don’t usually mean what they say. Human boys are NOT, I REPEAT, NOT made from puppy dogs’ tails. They come from humans just as puppies come from dogs.

Stella:    Eeewww! Nasty!

Me:        Not Eeewww Nasty. It’s the way the Great Creator designed things and He certainly did not design Eeewww Nasty and He did not design human boys to come from puppy tails.

Stella:    The young humans said that little girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Me:        Don’t get your hopes up. That is no truer than the rhyme about little boys.

Stella:    Awww. It sounded delicious.

Me:        Stella!

Stella:    Not that I would ever eat little girls, Lady Human. I simply would have enjoyed sitting nearby and sniffing them. Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. Oh well…Now if you will just explain what “snips” are.

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Raccoon Crossing – Conversations with Stella

Last night, we opened the front door while waiting for UPS to show up with a very important package and were privileged to see a pretty good-sized raccoon traversing our porch. It did not slow down, look in our direction, or hesitate. But this has raised some questions in Stella’s mind.

Stella:  Why was that cat with the striped tail on our porch?

Me:      That was a raccoon.

Stella:  Okay, why was that raccoon cat on our porch and wearing a black mask? Is it a criminal? It looked like a bank robber in one of those old Picture Box shows.

Me:      No, it was not a cat and it was not a criminal. It was a raccoon and all raccoons have masks and striped tails.

Stella:  It moved like a cat, a sneaky, sneaky cat.

Me:      It was likely looking for food. It probably stops by just about every night, but we are not usually looking out the front door at that time of night so we never see it.

Stella:  That’s creepy. Let’s put a sign out telling her to stay away.

Me:      That won’t work. Raccoons don’t read signs. It probably lives down by the creek and we are part of its hunting grounds.

Stella:  Hunting? Hunting our food?

Me:      No, your food is all inside.

Stella:  What if it comes inside hunting our food? NO!!!

Me:      It can’t get inside the house.

Stella:  We need to set a guard. Snoopey is good at that sort of thing. I appoint her.

Me:      You appoint?

Stella: I am the Queen.

Me:      I am the human.

Stella:  You can’t mean in. You want raccoons to take over our house.

Me:      No, raccoons will not take over the house. I am still the human, remember. This is not a raccoon house.

Stella:  Exactly! It is a bulldog house!

Me:      Oh, Stella, I have put a lot of words in your mouth during the time I have known you. I don’t recall ever telling you that this is a bulldog house.

Stella:  Words in my mouth? You did? I don’t remember. What did they taste like? Did they taste good. May I have some more, please?

Me:      Yes, as many as you like, good old bulldog.

Stella:  So long as none of them tastes like raccoon.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Rules, Rules, and More Rules – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. That’s right! QUEEN! Get it?

Me: Stella, what have I told you about being rude?

Stella: I don’t remember. I was too busy being rude and ordering others around. Hey, you have a long list of rules, too. Have you counted them lately?

Me: There aren’t so many rules and all of them are for your own good.

Stella: Ahem.

 Don’t step on my toes.

Don’t jump up on me.

Don’t step on my shoes, especially when I am wearing them.

Don’t grab. Not anything. Not at anytime.

Don’t wild play in the house.

Don’t bark for no reason.

Don’t…

Don’t…

Don’t…

Me: And your point is?

Stella: Too many rules. And they are not all for our own good. How is it for our own good not to step on your toes?

Me: You don’t have to hear me cry out in pain. I think you don’t know how heavy you really are.

Stella: Are you calling us ‘fat’?

Me: No, I am calling y’all heavy. 50 to 70 pounds each. What else would you call that?

Stella: Hefty. Substantial. Bulldoggy.

Me: Just see how it feels to you when hefty, substantial, or bulldoggy lands on your foot.

Stella: Humans don’t understand how it feels when you have to follow a bunch of rules.

Me: Oh, yes, we do! Humans have all kinds of rules to follow. Humans make rules. They are not always right, but we have to follow them until we can get them changed. The Great Creator has given us rules to follow that are for our benefit and those are right. Following good rules brings good.

Stella: I thought humans got to do whatever they wanted to do.

  • Me: No, humans are not wise enough to govern our own lives. The Great Creator gave us guidance so we would not destroy ourselves or the rest of creation. We do well when we follow Him, but when we don’t…

Stella: Rude happens.

Me: Yep.

Stella: You could still drop that no unreasonable barking rule. Unreasonable barking is the best kind.

“Keep My commandments, and live; and My law as the apple of thine eye.” Proverbs 7:2 KJV

Humans and Their Chew Sticks – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Hello! I don’t understand humans so I ask Lady Human when I see a human doing something silly or weird or foolish…

Me:        In other words, bulldoggy.

Stella:    Now let’s not be insulting, Lady Human.Being bulldoggy is so much more than that.

Me:        What silly or weird or foolish or bulldoggy thing did you witness a human doing?

Stella:    A man on the Picture Box had a big chew stick hanging out of his mouth and the stick was ON FIRE! Then I saw a man standing outside of a building and he had a small white chew stick hanging out of his mouth and IT WAS ON FIRE, TOO!

Me:        I think I can explain.

Stella:    I thought humans had common sense. Fire sticks burn. That is why you never let us around your fire pit when it is still hot. Miss Sweetie would do something silly or foolish…

Me:        Or bulldoggy.

Stella:    Oh, all right. Or bulldoggy. Like picking up a fire stick in her mouth. And then she would be all like “Ow! Ow! Ow!” and I’d be like, “Yeah, didn’t your good ole Aunt Stella tell you not to fool with those hot sticks, but you just had to anyway.”

Me:        Stella, I think I can explain what you saw.

Stella:    And that’s another thing. How are we supposed to behave when we see humans setting bad examples?

Me:        Those were not chew sticks in those men’s mouths. The big one was probably a cigar and the small white stick was probably a cigarette.

Stella:    And humans know that these sticks will catch fire?

Me:        The humans purposely light the sticks on fire.

Stella:    WHY? Their human muzzles are right there! They could burn their noses!

Me:        That seldom if ever happens. The sticks are made up of rolled up leaves called tobacco. And the humans who use them do so for some of the same reasons that dogs like to chew on sticks. It calms them a little. It’s a habit.

Stella:    Humans have a habit of lighting their chew sticks on fire?

Me:        No. Humans don’t really have chew sticks. Well, some people chew the tobacco instead of smoking it, but they aren’t sticks.

Stella:    And where do the humans get their not-for-chewing fire sticks?

Me:        They buy them at stores.

Stella:    If I need a good stick to calm me down, I use the one you gave me or I go pick one up from the yard. Simple. And I don’t set fire to it. That would just be…

Me:        Bulldoggy?

Stella:    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Two Long Ears and a Tiny Step of Faith

Our old rabbit, Moo-Moo, died today. She came to us because her previous owner, a 5-year-old boy, had an allergic dad. That was particularly sad because it was his dad who had gotten Moo-Moo for the boy to begin with.

They named her Moo-Moo because she was black and white and reminded the boy of a Holstein cow.

My daughter called me, hoping that I would be able to take the rabbit in. The request came at a bad time. I was minimally employed. The thought of taking on another expense twisted in my stomach. These were the pre-bulldog years, but still we had Susie the Welsh Corgi, Moon the part-Siamese cat, and a yellow parakeet named Buddy.

The boy’s father had checked with all the local shelters. No one had room for even one more bunny. My daughter said that the dad had built a three-story “condominium” for Moo-Moo (that’s bunny stories, not human stories -still pretty impressive). And the rabbit was litter box trained.

I was on my way home from one of my part-time jobs when my daughter called. I told her I would think about it and get back to her quickly, one way or the other.

The boy didn’t want to give the rabbit up. His heart was probably breaking. That’s all that I could think about on the drive home. How unhappy that would have made me. How he might be tempted to be angry with his father even though it wasn’t the father’s fault. How he might worry about where Moo-Moo would end up and what would happen to her.

What was the current price of rabbit food? Could I commit the room for a 3-story rabbit hutch? Did I need to take on another pet?

I did not know the father or the boy. I had never met either of them and I never have. I had no personal obligation to take on the animal or solve their re-homing problem.

And then I saw myself as the small, stingy, doubt-filled person I had become. If I couldn’t commit to take in a rabbit, a litter-trained rabbit with a 3-story condominium no less, what could I do? Before I even got home, I called my daughter back and told her Moo-Moo could come live with us. But, I added, be sure and bring the condo.

Being a rabbit, Moo-Moo was quiet though, early on, we almost renamed her “Thumper”. She expressed definite opinions about my volume level in the house. If I laughed too loudly at a comedy show or sang aloud, she thumped the floor of her condo violently. It was her rabbit version of an old-fashioned librarian putting her finger to her lips and shushing an unruly patron.

Among the bulldogs, Miss Sweetie had the closest rapport with Moo-Moo. They touched noses and carried on silent conversations. Miss Sweetie circled the rabbit condo with Moo-Moo keeping pace inside of it, a bulldog-rabbit race that went on until one or the other of them tired out.

Eventually Miss Sweetie would collapse with her back against the outside of the condo and Moo-Moo would skip up to the third floor of her rabbit home to take a rest.

It was Miss Sweetie who let me know that something was amiss this morning.  I had given Moo-Moo’s water and food a cursory look as I went about morning chores. Moo-Moo was stretched out as she usually was in the morning, right next to her nesting box on her condo’s third floor. About an hour later, Miss Sweetie had placed her paws on the condo and lifted herself up to sniff at Moo-Moo who had not shifted her position at all.

Miss Sweetie never reached up to the third floor because Moo-Moo always came down to her level to play. It was as though the bulldog was asking why her friend had not started their playtime.

And that’s when I knew.

I carefully picked up Moo-Moo’s body with Miss Sweetie watching. “She’s left. That’s all.” It was the only thing that I could think to say. Miss Sweetie looked at Moo-Moo and then walked away.

No one who lives on this earth avoids facing the fact of death.

Animals are sensitive to it. When my Corgi, Susie, died in our utility room while everyone was out of the house, our cat, Moon, would not walk into the room for the next 6 months. When one of our chickens died suddenly last spring, Snoopey, who always stays right beside me in the yard, would not approach the chicken run with me. She stayed far back, just watching.

That’s why I made sure that Miss Sweetie saw Moo-Moo as I took the body away. Moo-Moo was gone, but she didn’t just disappear. She left.

If I could, if I knew where the father and son who had to give up Moo-Moo were, I would let them know these things:

She lived a good, long time.

I think, I hope she enjoyed herself.

That 3-story rabbit condominium was genius and it held up well. She got lots of exercise jumping up and down the levels. It helped her stay healthy.

She had friends and at least one of them was a bulldog.

She laid down one night and peacefully went to sleep. She showed no pain. She felt no fear.

She will be remembered and she will be missed.

She helped me take a tiny step of faith which helped me take others.

And someday, we won’t experience death anymore.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:5 KJV

Amen.

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Cat Chasing Time – Where is the Cat? – Conversations with Stella

Here I am with Stella, the Olde English Bulldogges’ Queen…

Stella:    Where is the cat?

Me:         Excuse me?

Stella:    Where is the cat?

Me:         Chilling out in one of her many hiding places.

20160405_132957.jpg

Stella:    So where is the cat?

Me:        That’s for her to know and you to find out.

Stella:    That’s not funny. Is that a human game?

Me:        It was a long time ago.

Stella:    Why is the cat hiding? It is time for cat chasing.

Me:        Yeah, about that. That’s not really her favorite game.

Stella:    Why ever not? It is the most fun ever!

Me:        I have noticed something about that game that is a little odd.

Stella:    Like how I always win.

Me:        More like how you are the only one playing it.

Stella:    That is not correct. Bulldogs are cat chasers. We are all players. Whoop!

Me:        Whoop?

Stella:    Isn’t that what humans yell when they win?

Me:        Mmmmm. Not always.

Stella:    Where is the cat?

Me:        If this is a real game, you will have to find her.

Stella:    Not fair.

Me:        Of course it is fair. The cat’s hiding is part of the game. If the other bulldogs are playing, why can’t they help you find her?

Stella:    Well…to be honest, they are lazy. But you have suspected that for a long time.

Me:        No, they aren’t being lazy. They want you to play the game while they sit still and watch you run your rear end off. They bark and whine and get you all stirred up to search for the cat. Have you noticed that when they walk past the cat, they touch noses with her and there is no barking, no stomping, and no chasing? They leave that to you.

Stella:    Well…that is just…wrong! Grrrrrr! It makes me want to….

Me:        To tell the other bulldogs off?

Stella:    No, it makes me want to chase a cat. Go find me a cat to chase.

Me:        Nope. Find your own.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Bird Dogs – Can Dogs Fly? – Stella’s Blog

Hello! I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Today’s subject – Bird dogs!

BIRD DOGS! I heard Lady Human talking about bird dogs so she knows about them, too! Dogs can fly! I always knew in my heart that we could. Well, some of us can anyway.

This makes me so happy that I am going to dance. Not fly. Not yet.

But now at least I know that dogs can fly. Imagine what it will be like to fly. I will take a running start – not too fast, of course. I am still a bulldog. When I get up to top speed, I will jump, just a little hop, and off the ground I’ll go and I will just keep going. Flying! A flying dog! That’ll be me!

Wait, Lady Human is saying something. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh.

Well, that’s disappointing. And here I got my hopes up and got excited, all for nothing.

Apparently, the humans are misusing their words again. I don’t even know why they invent words if they are not going to mean what they say.

She says that bird dogs are dogs that help hunters . No flying is involved, not by the dogs anyway.

Why don’t humans say what they mean and mean what they say? Stop it, people! This is why I like talking to dogs. Dogs are honest. Dogs are straightforward. Dogs don’t twist things around.

I suppose now Lady Human is going to tell me that a dragonfly is not a dragon. That a house fly does belong in the house. That a catfish is not a cat that fishes.

It makes me want to cry. I don’t know who to believe.

Humans and their confusing, inexplicable ways.  Why can’t they be more like us? No one ever misunderstands what a dog means.

What? Lady Human is speaking to me again. What do you mean dogs are hard to figure out? Nonsense! You are just not listening. Try harder. I know. Write a human dictionary for dogs and I will write dog dictionary for humans.

What? What do you mean pay for a transcriptionist? That is your job. You pay for things. That is your job, too.

Until next time, dear humans, I will keep trying to make communication between dogs and people plain. I want to make sure that when I ask for a treat, no one misunderstands me.

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Speech! Speech! Speech! – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges.

Me:        Allow me to interrupt.

Stella:   Why not? You do all the time even without permission.

Me:        Only as necessary, so yes, just about all the time. What was that horrible throaty noise you were making to the other dogs? It sounded like gargling embedded in a whine.

Stella:   You have no appreciation for bulldoggese! Horrible? Gargling? Whine?

Me:        That’s what it sounded like to my human ears.

Stella:   I was giving a speech to my followers. You humans understand this. I have been hearing nothing but speeches from your human overlords for many days now.

Me:        Uh, excuse me. We don’t have human overlords. Not that some humans don’t try to lord it over us.

Stella:   That’s not what I was hearing on the Picture Box. And if you humans make speeches, why can’t I make one…or two…or a few more to my bulldogs?

Me:        What were you saying to the bulldogs?

Stella:   I told them that humans talk a lot and say very little. I told them that they were not to worry about that. I told them that they are not responsible for human speech that means nothing. I told them to ignore the cat, too. She talks entirely too much and nothing she says makes any sense. And I told them that if they don’t understand something that a human tells them to do, they should just start barking and the humans will give up.

Me:        Oh, thank you, Stella, that is so helpful.

Stella:   You are welcome.

Me:        No wonder the bulldogs are barking so much!

Stella:   I am their Queen. They do listen to me. Sometimes.  Do humans listen to their leaders when they make speeches?

Me:        Mmmmm.

Stella:   Maybe I should start making speeches to the humans. Maybe they would listen to me.

Me:        You know, Stella, under the current circumstances, it couldn’t hurt.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Sniff It Before You Eat It!

The chickens play a little game with the bulldogs now. They push a couple of their eggs against the wire wall of their run and the bulldogs paw at the offering. Every so often a dog successfully punctures an egg (they are infertile eggs – no roosters around right now) and licks up the egg white and yolk.

I always know when this has happened because when I call the bulldogs back into the house, they don’t show up. They are busy egg hunting behind the chicken run where I can’t see them. They are not about to break off simply to run back into the boring house where no one offers them smelly eggs.

A good fresh hard-boiled egg now and again is a reputable treat, but on occasion, the hens offer their bulldog followers an egg that they have kept buried, an egg overlooked in the regular retrieval process – in other words, a smelly old egg.

Stella, Snoopey, and Tiger are discerning food connoisseurs. Egg offerings do not tempt them. But Wiggles and her 10-month old puppies, Doodlebug and Miss Sweetie, are trash divers. A stinky smell will lure them off course and entice them every time.

“Don’t eat that!” and “Ew! Yuck!” are my two most common warnings to them. I have started using truly delicious, pungent treats to break their habit. It appears to be working.

If you were given a choice between a raw egg and a smoky chicken jerky treat, which would you choose? Precisely! Me, too! Smoke and salt every time!

So what have I learned from the bulldogs?

  1. If it stinks, there is a reason. Don’t assume that it is okay, no matter what it is.
  1. Some stinky foods are all right because they are meant to stink, e.g. bleu cheese. If it is meant to stink, let it. If it is not meant to stink, throw it away and get something fresh.
  1. If it is supposed to be yellow and it is blue or green, that is not okay.
  1. If it is supposed to be red and it is black, nope!
  1. I believe that God has given us a discerning sense of smell so that we can avoid the bad smells and enjoy the good ones. Bulldogs have been especially blessed in this (200 – 300 million olfactory receptors in dogs vs. 5 million in humans).

Bottom line, if it smells bad, that’s a red flag warning. Stay away from the stink!

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Promise Me or I’ll Scream – Conversations with Stella

This is Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Please allow me to begin this conversation with a SCREAM!!! AAAAAGGGHHHHEEEEEEE!!!

Me:        Ow, Stella! What was that? It hurt my ears!

Stella:    WHERE DID YOU GO?

Me:        Stella, stop yelling! I went to the store, that’s all. I was only gone for an hour.

Stella:    Only an hour from hell!

Me:        But there’s nothing wrong. Everything seems fine. Everyone is here. No one is hurt and no one else is screaming. Why are you so upset?

Stella:    The Picture Box! Look at the Picture Box!

Me:        The television? I’m looking. It’s all right.

Stella:    All right? All right? Look at the humans running! Hear them screaming! They are being chased by a…GIANT LIZARD! You never told me that there were GIANT LIZARDS! Why? Why are there such things?

Me:        It’s all right, Stella.

Stella:    No, no it’s not! Why isn’t someone helping those poor humans?

Me:        It is not a news program. It is a movie. It’s entertainment.

Stella:    Humans think that giant lizards chasing and eating people is entertainment? Think again!

Me:        It’s all make-believe, made up stuff. It’s not real.

Stella:    You mean that there never have been any giant lizards?

Me:        Well, actually there were…

Stella:    NO! Horrible!

Me:        Calm down. They haven’t been around for a long, long time.

Stella:    Do you promise me that there are no giant lizards now?

Me:        It depends on your definition of ‘giant’. There are some lizards that are your size.

Stella:    Life is a nightmare.

Me:        No, it isn’t. In all your time on Earth, have you ever seen a lizard anywhere near your size?

Stella:    Hmmm. No. Just little guys like that green talking one that keeps showing up on the Picture Box. He’s okay.

Me:        So admit it. Life is not a nightmare.

Stella:    I will reserve judgment for now.

Me:        What can I do to make this all better for you?

Stella:    I can’t tell the difference between your human make-believe and your human news programs.

Me:        Neither can I.

Stella:    Pledge to me that you will not leave the Picture Box on when you go to the store or anyplace else.

Me:        All right. I pledge that I will not leave the television on when I leave the house. Subject to the following exceptions: I may forget, I may not be able to turn it off, someone else may turn it on, you may turn it on, I may not want to turn it off.

Stella:    That does not sound like a pledge.

Me:        The meaning of the word ‘pledge’ has weakened considerably over the years.

Stella:    So humans no longer make real pledges?

Me:        Of course they do. It all depends on who the person is who is making the pledge. And on who is receiving it.

Stella:    But you still promise that there are no more giant lizards, right?

Me:        Hmmm.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

My Heavy Crown – Stella’s Blog

As Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, I, Stella McStarFace the First, have many responsibilities.

  1. I have to guard all of my toys to make sure they aren’t misappropriated. Misappropriated is a long word that Lady Human taught me. It means stolen by bulldogs.
  1. I have to complain – loudly, using my outdoor voice in an inappropriate manner so I get maximum attention. Inappropriate is another of Lady Human’s long words. She uses those words when she stands in front of the bulldogs and talks and talks and talks, usually after someone has caused a riot or a ruckus. The speeches are pretty boring, but they increase my vocabulary so I don’t complain about them. Much. Usually I just drift off into a nap.

So what, you may ask, do I have to complain about? That list is lengthy and the                         subject for another blog post. In fact, I should include that list in a conversation with             Lady Human. That will save time. How do the humans put it? Kill two cats with one               stone.

           (Transcriptionist: No, not cats. The old expression is…oh, nevermind.)

Please ignore any interruptions by my staff. To continue –

           3. I have the primary responsibility for chasing Moon the Cat. Oh, the others pretend                 that they will, but when they come face to face with her, what do they do? They                       stare and walk on by, leaving all the real chasing for me. It is quite lazy of them and               selfish to boot. As much as I enjoy cat-chasing, the whole weight of it should not                   fall on me and my heavy head.

4. I am the bulldog representative to the humans, not just for complaining even                          though that is the most fun. The humans are pretty clueless and I let them know                    what needs to be done, such as when we need treats, and more treats, and                                  different types of treats, and more of those treats, too. I am also the taste-tester                    for all new treats. Unless it has my royal approval, it doesn’t get shared with the                      others. Of course, I don’t mind finishing off the rejects.

I am sure that I have other queenly responsibilities, but I don’t know what they are so I don’t care. Right now, I am going to exercise my prerogative to take a long nap. Being queen is a tiring business.

Signed,

Stella the First, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

The Trophy

Doodlebug and Miss Sweetie still qualify as puppies. They are 9 month old litter mates, rambunctious and wild as…well. ..as young bulldogs. I was going to say March Hares, but bulldogs probably would not appreciate being compared to any variety of rabbit. They would admire their speed, but rabbits don’t possess those iconic bulldog fangs, something of which the bulldogs are justly proud.

A favorite game of theirs is to grab the scruff of the other’s neck, a particularly loose area of skin on bulldogs. One will grip the other, usually while they are in full gallop, Then let the wrestling begin. The grabber pulls the grab-ee down, they roll around for a few minutes and, turnabout being fair play, the grab-ee returns the favor. Doodlebug drags Miss Sweetie across the yard. Miss Sweetie takes her turn doing the same.

The whole game appears rough. It is. And they love it. They are best friends for life and their tit for tat is continually forgiven.

But Miss Sweetie may have gone a little too far during one of their games.

When it was time for them to come in from play to avoid the brutal heat, I opened the back door and Doodlebug rushed in, sans his new collar. Great. Okay. The search was on.

 

It didn’t take long. Out in the yard, refusing to come in, was Miss Sweetie with Doodlebug’s collar hanging from her mouth. I caught up with her and retrieved the stolen collar. Its latch was broken. She had grabbed him, not by the scruff of his neck, but by his collar. So much easier.

Her powerful jaws had cracked one side of the latch and she let her brother go, preferring to keep his collar as a trophy of victory. Doodlebug is stronger than she is and it is rare that she comes out on top in their contests.

Still, to her credit, she never gives up. This time she came away with something to prove her triumph.

Trophies are iffy things. Not everyone who has one deserves it.

I am reminded by Doodlebug’s broken collar –

It’s not much of a trophy if I tore it out of the rightful owner’s hands.

It’s not a victory if I claimed what was not mine.

It’s not a true victory if I didn’t play by the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5)

Did Miss Sweetie compete lawfully according to bulldog rules? I don’t know. They have not deigned to include me on those details. Perhaps someday I will understand them.

 

Copyright 2016 H. J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Mouth Traffic Jam – Stella’s Blog

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

We bulldogs are known everywhere by our big, beautiful mouths. They are wide and deep and framed on the bottom by serious-looking teeth that Lady Human calls our “upside down vampire fangs”.  I don’t know what an upside down vampire is. Since she loves bulldogs, that was probably a compliment to us. Probably. Maybe. Lady Human says weird things sometimes. I still love her. Probably.

Bulldogs are vocal. Human translation: LOUD. It is one of the things I like most about us. If you are a dog, bark. If you are going to bark, BARK LOUD!

Don’t be a pipsqueak!

But having said that, there is too much bulldog mouth traffic around here. This past week has been LOUD. When Lady Human takes me somewhere in her rolling box and there are too many other rolling boxes in front of her, she says, ‘Traffic jam!’  That means we won’t get to the fun place or…yuck, the vet (a sweet lady, but you know, vet) any time soon.

What we have at our house is a MOUTH TRAFFIC JAM. Too much bulldog talk too much of the time. Why does this bother me? Because with everyone else barking, no one can hear me. As queen, I deserve to be heard first, foremost, and all the time.

If the queen barks and no one hears her, how can she be queen?

So today I am issuing a queen order. (A what? An edict? If you say so.)  I am issuing an edict.

NOBODY TALKS WHILE I AM TALKING. IF I AM QUIET AND START TALKING, EVERYBODY ELSE, SHUT UP!

SIGNED, QUEEN STELLA

Well, that was easy enough. I am surprised that the humans haven’t figured out the edict thing yet. It would solve all of their problems.

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Jump for Joy

Had I turned around three seconds later, I would have missed it. Isn’t that the way with so many things in life? A couple of seconds here, a minute there, and the event is over . Done and gone.

Doodlebug and Miss Sweetie cut loose with a mad puppy dash around the den and kitchen. Mind you, each of these “puppies” weighs sixty pounds. At this point, they  are more of an imitation of Sherman tanks on the roll, much like their adult counterparts when they are so inspired.

I corralled Doodlebug and, as I was leading him back to the calm of his crate, Miss Sweetie roared out of the kitchen at a gallop. Not a trot, not a run – a full out gallop.

And then she did it. Her four bulldog legs launched her body into the air. She kicked her hind legs flat in a bucking bronc move. A bucking bulldog. The leap flew her 18 inches off the floor. She landed with her full galloping stride unchecked. She slid to a stop in the utility room, turned, and continued her bolting run back toward the kitchen.

By the time I caught up to her, her tongue lolled to the right side of her mouth and her face wore a satisfied look that declared, “I did what I came to do and it was great.”

Her leap was a jump of pure joy.

It would not have scored high marks at the Olympics. Nobody will base a dance craze on it. And since I had no camera rolling, no video of it will go viral.

But I smiled. And I grinned when I saw her bulldoggy face and the satisfaction written all over it. Thank the LORD for jumps of joy.

So many tears have been shed. For so many reasons.

But then there is joy.

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  (Psalm 30:5 KJV)

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Why Are You Sticking Your Tongue Out at Me? – Conversations with Stella

I have a question for Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge…

Stella:   Queen!

 Me:        Whatever. Why do bulldogs stick out their tongues?

Stella:   Tongues need fresh air. It is a bulldog thing. Other dogs do it. Bulldogs do it best.

Me:        But why?

Stella:   Don’t humans stick their tongues out?

Me:        Only to lick our lips or to be rude.

Stella:   How is sticking your tongue out rude?

Me:        To humans, it means something like, ‘I don’t care what you think. In your face.’

Stella:   How is that rude?

Me:        Believe me. When humans do it, it’s rude. It’s the attitude behind it.

Stella:   I have no attitude behind sticking my tongue out. I do it because it feels good to me and it cools me off a little and it is a bulldog move and I am proud to be a bulldog.

Me:        All right. I understand. What about when you stick your tongue out while you are sunbathing, which I have observed you are doing on a regular basis now. You never used to sunbathe.

Stella:   My tongue can use a little sun, too.

Me:        Aren’t you concerned that your tongue may get sunburnt?

Stella:   Nope. Bulldog tongues are tough. The sun would never dare to burn our tongues.

Me:        What would happen if it did?

Stella:   We would have to attack that old sun and lick it until we put it out.

Me:        A huge pack of bulldogs attacking the sun. I can imagine that.

Stella:   Are we getting back on that imagining thing?

Me:        It would take a large effort from NASA.

Stella:   What is NASA? Is that a bulldog group?

Me:        In a way. Keep sticking your tongue out, Stella.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Push Away the Hand that Feeds You

Imagine being blind and deaf and an orphan. You are only a few hours old. Smell, touch, and taste are the only senses that guide you. Your mouth craves something warm to suckle, but there is nothing within reach. There should be someone; your instincts tell you that, but that someone is unable to care for you, and why does not matter.

Warmth takes hold of you, not pleasant and pillowy, but skinny, bony, and grasping. You strain and wriggle against it, but it won’t let you go. It presses a strange softness against your mouth. You fight that, too. It is not as soft as it should be.  It doesn’t smell right. Finally, you give up and open your lips to receive an odd liquid and your suckling instinct kicks in. The liquid does not taste quite right either, but it fills your hungry belly and now you can sleep.

All of us have been helpless. No one likes it. It is frightening. The funny thing is that often, when help comes, we resist it because we misunderstand. The help does not look like what we expected. Our instincts rebel.

I have watched tiny, un-mothered puppies fight the offer of a bottle nipple full of milk because it does not smell the way their brains say it should smell, or because there is no warm body behind it. Patience wears down the resistance though. The puppies’ survival instinct and hunger win the argument. The little dogs accept the help.

I have fought God more than once. He extended His help to me, His wisdom, His way of doing things, and I didn’t recognize it. It didn’t look, smell, or taste like what I expected or thought that I wanted. Other times, I recognized that God was behind the proffered help, but I didn’t like the shape of His solution. While I refused His help, I only delayed my own deliverance.

So what have I learned from dogs?

A wise puppy latches on even if that bottle is not his first choice.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1 KJV)

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

It’s 99 Degrees. Do You Know Where Your Bulldogs Are?

I just saw the temperature. How did it get to be 99 degrees Fahrenheit without my noticing it? When the mercury rises above 98, that’s when it gets to be a little bit warm. There was that hint in the air this morning, that heavy wet blanket dampening that makes the outdoors a place to avoid.

Oddly, each of the bulldogs in turn wanted to sunbathe this morning. Maybe they sensed the approach of the stultifying afternoon heat and decided to slurp up the kinder, gentler morning sun’s rays while the slurping was safe.

The pressure is on. The heat is rising. Living will take simpler forms for a few months. We will stroll, not rush and we will abide by simple rules.

Keep calm. Calm people and calm dogs make for a cooler life.

Drink plenty of water. Bulldogs are experts at this.

Stay in the shade. Play hide and seek with the sun as “It” and don’t let that mean                   old fireball find you if you can help it.

Don’t work out during the heat of the day, even if the workout is fun. Running,                       jumping, wrestling, and chasing are play, but they are hot play.

Take advantage of cooling vests for dogs and puppy pools. Use cooling pads.                             Humans, use wet scarves and cloths.

Those are just a few basics for summer.

Wait! Is that thunder I hear? The sun is cloaked with clouds. The temperature has already dropped a degree.

Praise the LORD! Now it’s only 98 degrees. Autumn must be just around the corner. All is well!

And in case I didn’t mention it, thank You, LORD, for air conditioning.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.