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.










Stella’s Blog – List of Offenders

Hello! I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogge. I am back with my List of Offenders. I has been a while since I revealed who is causing the most trouble in my domain so my List is necessary to keep accounts straight.

From most offensive to least offensive, they are:

  1. Tall Man – I know that Lady Human says that humans should ever be on the List of Offenders, but Queen’s Rules rule. Tall Man has been letting his new Monster Machine that Lady Human claims is a vacuum drag him through the house again and again. It is terrifying. Then he brought out the broom. That proves that the Monster Machine is not a vacuum and Lady Human is wrong. Why sweep with the broom when a vacuum has already eaten all the dirt on the floor? Dear Tall Man, please stop cleaning. Bulldogs love dirt. Thank you.
  1. Miss Sweetie – How can one dog carry so much dirt around? Maybe she is the reason Tall Man was cleaning so much. She is the only dog using the puppy pool that Lady Human brought us and with one plunge, the water is filthy – every day! Who takes a bath every day? No wonder the rest of us don’t jump in. Who wants to share that? Miss Sweetie, take a bath! Oh…Well then, stop getting so dirty. Not rolling in dirt would be a good start.
  1. Tiger – Of course. What else is new? Reason? Picking fights with Snoopey. What else is new? She had gotten much better about that as though she were truly growing up. She just had her 2nd Two years is enough time for anyone to grow up. But she couldn’t help herself. She mad dogged Snoopey one day for no reason other than snootiness. Never lock eyes with a pack leader unless you are willing to apologize later.
  1. Snoopey – Moody. Broody. Rude-y. Unbecoming in a pack leader. As Queen, I can comment unfavorably on the pack leader. Rank hath its privileges.

Everyone else had their issues this week except for me, but they were boring so there is no need to comment on them. I was perfect. As expected. As always.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



What Were You Dreaming About? – Conversations with Stella

Stella:    Hello. I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, here with Lady Human again. Why? I don’t know.

Me:        I was watching you sleep a while ago.

Stella:    That is creepy. Do you stare at the others while they are sleeping?

Me:        Occasionally, but I was watching you because you were obviously dreaming and I have never seen a dog so active during sleep.

Stella:    What was I doing?

Me:        Your hind legs pumped as though you were running. One even jumped off the ground. Your eyelids twitched. You ruffled your lips. You huffed and puffed like you were out of breath and your sides bellowed in and out. Then your ears perked up, shifting back and forth. Your front legs stayed still, but that was the only part of you that was not engaged in whatever was going on in your head. So what was your dream?

Stella:    I was wearing a crown because, you know…queen. I ran up a grassy hill, leading my people, the bulldog army. We were so many. We charged the cat because she had taken and hidden all of our treats.

Me:        A whole bulldog army to chase one cat?

Stella:    As the humans say, we meant business. Our treats had disappeared! They had to be rescued!

Me:        Rescued so that they could be eaten by you?

Stella:    Not all eaten by me. Most of them, yes because, you know…queen.

Me:        So how did the battle go?

Stella:    It was exciting! I was in the lead because…

Me:        Yeah, I know…queen.

Stella:    Now you understand. Anyway, I was running, but a bulldog with longer legs…I think it was Snoopey but it all happened so fast… passed me and others passed me and so I jumped over them. I tilted my ears left and right to direct which way the army would go. At the top of the hill I found the cat. I ruffled an order for her to leave the treats and depart. She pretended that she did not understand me and just sat licking herself as though she didn’t care. The treats were in a basket behind her. I was about to grab them with my big bulldog mouth when…I woke up. I was at home. There was no army. There were no treats. It was just a dream. Unless…

Me:        Unless what?

Stella:    You make my dream come true.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.








Conversations with Stella – The Battering Ram

Stella and I are hashing out one of my issues today, not that I expect to get far with it.

Stella:   What does that mean? “Get far with it.” Does that mean you are going on a camping trip far away? Noooo!!! Not without me! I hate camping. I still don’t understand why we do it, but I want to go if you are.

Me:        That’s so sweet, Stella!

Stella:   Not sweet. I get bored when you are not around.

Me:        Still sweet. I must be a little bit interesting if you get bored without me.

Stella:   You throw the bouncy toys in the yard.

Me:        You don’t like the bouncy toys.

Stella:   I know, but you make the effort anyway.

Me:        What about Tall Man?

Stella:   He is not a bouncy toy sort of human. He is a walk around sort of human. When you are not here, we just walk around, looking at stuff. Who needs to look at what we have already seen? And he won’t let us play the cat chasing game.

Me:        Ah, you admit it at last. It is all a game. It is not about catching the cat at all.

Stella:   Who would actually want to catch a cat? Yuck!

Me:        On to my question. When you come in from outside, why must you ram the door the second that I open it? You knock past me every time. Even when I get down close to your face and tell you to enter calmly, you blow in like the last thunderstorm, do your Stella Hop around the room, and only then do you settle down.

Stella:   I don’t understand the problem.

Me:        You hit the door like a battering ram. In fact, the ancient Romans could have used you on some of their military campaigns. I have tried to stop you. I set myself against the door and open it slowly and BAM! Here you come blasting in.

Stella:   I don’t understand the problem.

Me:        All the other bulldogs WALK through the door, sometimes a little fast, but still they walk in.

Stella:   When they walk in, they are not being bulldogs. I am a bulldog. I am Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges as I have made abundantly clear on many occasions. I don’t simply enter a room. I make my presence known. Everybody knows when Stella is in the building.

Me:        Could you maybe be a little less bulldoggy when you come in?

Stella:   Less bulldoggy? NEVER!

Me:        Well, you heard it from the dog’s mouth. Until next time, farewell from me and Stella the Battering Ram.

Stella:   Hmmph!  That’s Queen Stella to you, Lady Human! And do not forget it!

Me:        How could I?


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





Stella’s Blog – Who Forgot to Turn the Sun Down?

I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge Queen. Hello!

I am bringing a complaint to Lady Human from all the bulldogs. Something went horribly wrong today and I demand to know why.

When I went outside during the morning, I noticed that the outside air felt like the inside air. What was going on? The inside air always feels better than the outside air. At least the humans used to do a good job at that. All of a sudden, everything felt the same – HOT!

Some human forgot to turn the sun down.

This is how I believe it works: the Great Creator gave us the sun so that we can see well and run around and poop and pee and chase cats. He also gave it so bulldogs could sunbathe. I believe some human is assigned to turn the sun off at night so we can finish our daytime naps. But that human forgot and left the sun running too long and it got hotter and hotter and now the hot is inside the house.

I was here last year during the hot time and this did not happen.

Lady Human and Tall Man were sweating and we bulldogs were panting. Why humans don’t pant I do not understand. It would cool them off so much.

Tall Man was talking to the black box in his hand and some human was saying that he could not come today to fix something and I understood that whatever was broken was causing the house to be hot and was called A SEE. See a what? Humans are too complicated.

Lady Human set up lots of little boxes with spinners in them. The spinners go fast and blow air – HOT AIR! Where is my cool house air?

Tall Man added chunks of ice to our water. That was a nice touch, but WHERE IS MY COOL HOUSE AIR? The humans left and soon came back with a big box. Tall Man worked at the window and put a white box in it. He pushed on the box. It whirred like other human toys, but this one breathed out cold air. YAY!

Ahhhh!!!!  The cool air returned. The sun must have trapped it in that white box that Tall Man stuck in the window. Once again, Tall Man is our hero. He wrestled the cold air box from the sun and brought it home.

I felt like eating so I did. So did the others. I didn’t need to pant anymore. Neither did the others.

I will discuss all of this with Lady Human later. Right now, I am going to take a nice, long, cool nap.

Farewell until next time,

Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges



Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Conversations with Stella – Puppy Pool Party!

Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, and I are back and, though the calendar does not yet agree, summer has already fully arrived here…

Stella:   A pool! A swimming pool! A pool just for dogs!

Me:        I’m glad you’re excited, Stella.

Stella:   Cannonbaaaall!!!

Me:        Wait, you can’t do a cannonball in that pool. Well, you could, but all the water would splash out.

Stella:   I don’t do cannonballs. I am a bulldog. I am a cannonball! Thank you! Thank you, Lady Human, for the bulldog pool!

Me:        You are welcome!

Stella:   Of course, I won’t be using it.

Me:        What? Why not?

Stella:   The stinky puppies, Doodlebug and Miss Sweetie. Dirty.

Me:        The pool will help clean their feet.

Stella:   And everything else. Nasty.

Me:        You are going to skip pool time just because the puppies are going to use it. You need to learn to share.

Stella:   Nope.

Me:        It’s filled with clean water right now. You can jump in. Are you sure you won’t try it?


Stella:   Let’s see what it looks like when Doodlebug and Miss Sweetie are done with it. Oh, and Wiggles. Did you see how much dirt she carried into the house the other day?

Me:        Yes. She found a good dirt-rolling spot and took advantage of it. I may stick my own feet in the puppy pool once in a while.

Stella:   My point exactly. Nasty.

Me:        I hope you will reconsider, especially on the really hot days.

Stella:   Nope. It will be fine for the others. For my part, I would prefer an indoor spa and my very own bathrobe and towel. Please let me know when they show up.

Me:        Happy Summer, Stella.

Stella:   Happy Summer, Lady Human.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Stella’s Blog – What is Decluttering? It Sounds Horrible.

Hello, I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Thank you for joining me for my blog. I am sure that you are honored to be here.

(Transcriptionist: Stella, that was rude. It is you who are honored that they are reading your blog.)

Despite what my transcriptionist says, I am the Queen and the Queen is never rude. Moving along…The humans are up to something that I do not understand. They may, in fact, be up to no good. I have not yet decided.

They have been bringing lots of cute, chewable items into the big room and sorting them. Lady Human and Tall Man put them in different bags and then the bags go away. The items do not smell like food so I really shouldn’t care. They had better not be throwing food out! I am the Queen! I can start a riot! Just see if I don’t!

They brought in a lot of fuzzy softy toys and put them in special bags. I heard Lady Human say, “Give away. Give away. Give away.” She said it so many times and all the while, Tall Man put the softy toys into bags and the bags left.

What is going on? Why are the toys leaving? I could use those in my bed. I only have five softy toys in there now. I need more. The toys would be safe with me. I would take care of them. I promise.

Why would humans ever give anything away? They have huge, tall crates that they sleep in. They could stack more softy toys in them all the way to the top. Between you and me, I think the humans have lost their minds again.

I know what I would have done with those toys.  First, I would have moved them all into my crate. There would soon have been no room so I would have had to claim another crate and soon enough there would have been no room in that one so I would have had to claim another crate…Mmmmm, maybe the humans have not lost their minds after all.

You are probably asking where the other bulldogs would have slept if I kept all those softy toys in their crates to which I would have answered,” Who cares?” I am the Queen, not a hotel manager for bulldogs.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Conversations with Stella – Musical Crates

Hello, I am Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, and I am concerned….

Me:        I usually make the introductions, Stella.

Stella:   I am taking that over today because I am concerned that the humans have lost their minds.

Me:        I beg your pardon?

Stella:   Yes, you should. What is going on? I’ll tell you what is going on.

Me:        Then why ask?

Stella:   Craziness is going on. Old-fashioned human craziness. Perturbation has taken me over.

Me:        Where did you hear the word “perturbation”?

Stella:   From you.

Me:        I don’t think so. It’s not that I mind the word. I just wonder where you learned it.

Stella:   The dogs were passing it around at the vet’s office and the puppies brought it home the other week. You like long words. I figured that they heard it from you while you were showing off in front of the vet lady.

Me:        Stella, I don’t show off in front of the vet. What would I show off? My ignorance? And why would I use a word like “perturbation” there?

Stella:   Because we are bulldogs and we are perturbing?

Me:        Oh, all right then, why has perturbation taken you over? What is the human craziness?

Stella:   You switched Snoopey’s and Tiger’s crates without asking.

Me:        Yes, Tiger’s crate is now by you where Snoopey’s used to be and Snoopey’s crate is where Tiger’s used to be. We don’t need to ask them. We are the humans, remember?

Stella:   I don’t care that you didn’t ask them. I care that you didn’t ask me. How would you like to get a new neighbor all of a sudden and no one asked you first?

Me:        New neighbors show up next to humans all the time and no one asks first. We are going to have a new neighbor soon and nobody asked us.

Stella:   Who is this new neighbor of ours?

Me:        I don’t know yet. They just bought the place. They haven’t moved in.

Stella:   I think I don’t like that either. Are they dog people or…no! Are they cat people? No! No more cats. How could you let this happen?

Me:        I don’t know if they are cat people. I don’t know anything about them. Back to this crate issue. We placed Tiger by you in the hope that you and she would start getting along better if you became crate neighbors for a while.

Stella:   Why me? Tiger is always challenging Snoopey. Make them be crate neighbors.

Me:        We may do that.

Stella:   Why do you humans change things when they were going so well?

Me:        A little change every once in a while is okay. Why don’t you just tell Tiger, “Howdy, Neighbor!” and let it be?

Stella:   I am used to Snoopey.

Me:        Snoopey is still here. And her crate is only across the room.

Stella:   I am still filled with perturbation.

Me:        As you said, you are a bulldog and pretty much always perturbed. But I understand. It takes effort to be a good neighbor to a new neighbor.

Stella:   Pooh! She had better not pollute my airspace.

Me:        If she does, just bury your nose in your bed until it passes.

 “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  (Mark 12:31 KJV)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.




Conversations with Stella – It’s All About Me!

Me:        Hello again. Stella is back…

Stella:    Queen Stella.

Me:        Mmmhmm… with an issue that has been bothering her.

Stella:    Wiggles is the issue that has been bothering me. Wiggles!

Me:        Wiggles is an Olde English Bulldogge, just like you are. She is your half-sister. She is not an “issue”.

Stella:    You can’t fool me, Lady Human. I saw you ruffle your lips and blow out your cheeks. You looked like a frustrated bulldog. I wanted to laugh. Your face was so funny. But I didn’t because I was a frustrated bulldog. Wiggles is a disobeyer. She doesn’t mind you. More than that, she hasn’t been minding me! That’s what is important.

Me:        Wait! You think it is more important for her to obey you than to obey me? Really? That’s not a safe attitude. Y’all are smart dogs, but humans know a whole bunch more than you do.

Stella:    Please understand. I don’t really care at all what Wiggles does. She can charge around the room like her goofy self as long as she doesn’t bump into me. She can chew on stuff as long as it’s not my stuff. She can grab the cat’s food; in fact, please do. She can dance her comma dance so long as I don’t have to watch it.

Me:        So it’s all about you.

Stella:    Of course. I thought you already knew that. Queen Stella. Remember?

Me:        How can I forget?

Stella:    Don’t worry. I will remind you constantly.

Me:        That is a rather selfish way to live, isn’t it? What about sharing?

Stella:    Sharing is for puppies. I’ve done my bit. I’m finished. What about humans? Tell me about your selfish way to live.

Me:        Uh, well…I guess I can be selfish. I try not to be.

Stella:    What about sharing?

Me:        I share…some.

Stella:    I saw you with smoked sausages. You didn’t share that with me.

Me:        It was part of one sausage and it was my whole dinner and…hey! I don’t have to explain to you what I do with my food. I have shared plenty with you bulldogs.

Stella:    That depends. How do you define “plenty”?


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Stella’s Blog – No Barking at Breakfast

Hello! I am Stella, Queen (Yes, QUEEN) of the Olde English Bulldogges. Welcome once again to my blog. I like blogging because I have much to say on every subject, even subjects I know nothing about.

The sky has been crying a lot. Rain, the humans call it. But I am dry and comfortable. Why? Because I do not dance in the water like Miss Sweetie and Doodlebug. They are silly puppies and come back in the house painted with mud and who knows what else. I am dignified and all grown up and…oh, what’s that? The cat is running and I must catch her!  Aaaagghh! I slid on the floor. Missed chance! Where was I? Ah, I am a dignified grown-up and I don’t do silly things.

Which is why I want to complain about barking at breakfast.

I like a nice, quiet morning. Breakfast comes after outdoor potty time (take note, Miss Sweetie – outdoor potty time. There is no official indoor potty time ever.) Lady Human calls our food time “The Hallelujah Breakfast Club” and she eats with us. Not the same food  out of our bowls. I would not like that. Everybody, stay out of my bowl! I don’t want your dirty mouths in it. That goes double for Lady Human. I have no idea what humans eat or chew on. I don’t even want to think about it.

I have noted way too much loud bulldog talk during breakfast. Tiger is the biggest loudmouth. If I can wait patiently for my bowl to be filled, why can’t you,Tiger? And Doodlebug does not have to put his five pennies in either.

(Pause for consultation with transcriptionist)

 Two cents. I have been informed that the human expression is two cents. Very well. Two cents. It sounded more like five to me.

The point is they have nothing to say and it is too early to be listening to loud noises. Barking should be used for emergencies only, such as strangers, hurry up bathroom runs, Moon the Cat, and singing the song of our people.

So please, everyone, dogs and people, keep the barking down in the mornings. The only sound that we should hear is bulldog mouths chomping our food. Humans may stay if they eat silently.

Thank you for your kind attention. That is all.


Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges


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.

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.


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.






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.