Category Archives: Your Stories

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Living with Grace

by Judy Bonner

“Can your dog come over?”

The words refocused my attention to Gracie.  We were at the vet’s check-out window, paying the bill.  Gracie was tethered to a hook under the window.

Psst! Come on over!

Psst! Come on over!

I looked down at Gracie.  Her eyes were dancing, her lips in a puckered up smile, her butt wiggling.  Gracie loves people, especially children.  Who was now the apple of Gracie’s eye?

I looked up.  There was a woman at the next check-out window.  She again asked if my dog could come over.  Why not, I thought.  But wait, what is that in her hand?  A leash?  My eyes narrowed in on that leash, following it down to the floor.  Sure enough, it attached to a dog sitting tightly next to the woman’s legs, a dog not much bigger than Gracie.

Okay, take a step back, I thought to myself.  I stood in front of Gracie.  For as much as Gracie loves people, she is cautious around other dogs.

Gracie did not play with other puppies at break time in kindergarten class; she preferred a side seat with a good view instead.  She made friends at our group dog training classes, but certainly not at the first class.  She came to enjoy a good one-on-one play with her favorite friends.  On her short list were a Golden Retriever, a Great Dane, a Cocker Spaniel, a Basset Hound, and a Wheaton Terrier, the only female in her circle of pals.

Otherwise, Gracie generally offers up calming signals to most dogs in her path…turning her head, sniffing the ground, making a C-curve, changing direction, all to avoid a face-to–face encounter.  She is now a four-year-old Border Collie.  I have one finger left on each hand to add to my count of dogs Gracie has shown a great displeasure of their presence and behaviors.

The woman, probably noticing my hesitation, went on to say her dog was a rescue, living with her four years now.  “It’s only in the last year that I can pick up a broom without her running behind a door. This is the first time she has shown ANY interest in another dog.”  Four eyes were pleading with me–the dog’s and her owner’s.

No words from Gracie.  I glanced down at her.  Hmm . . . now a sitting wiggle-butt.  “It is up to Gracie.”  I gave Gracie permission to “go visit,” thinking she would head straight for the woman, ignoring the dog.  Nope.  Gracie walked softly and slowly over to the dog.  They touched noses and started sniffing each other’s muzzle and face.  Good so far, but dogs in her face is something Gracie will tolerate but does not enjoy.   Best not to push our luck.  “Good girl, Gracie,” I said.  “All done. Let’s go now.”  Gracie returned to my side.

“Thank-you” the woman said.  I smiled and nodded.  Back to business.   I signed the credit card slip, gathered all my papers together, and looped Gracie’s leash in my hand.  We headed to the exit door.

“Can she come over one more time?”

I turned around.  “It is up to Gracie,” I said.  Gracie was once again doing her sitting wiggle-butt.  “You can go visit.” I touched her head as she glided past me to the other dog.  I let them greet each other longer this time before calling Gracie back to me.

The woman started crying.  “You don’t know how much this means to me,” she said,  kneeling down to hug her dog.  “This is the first time I’ve seen her really happy.” The dog snuggled into her owner’s embrace.

Tears welled up in my eyes as Gracie and I tuned around to leave. I’d had dogs my whole life.  My journey with Gracie was unlike any other.  This was another entry into my journal of living with grace.

Love Me, Love My Lookalike

Do You and Your Dog Look Alike?

by Lisa Lanser-Rose


From Cesar Canine Cuisine

We want to see! Email us your photos and a few words about the two of you to We’ll feature you and your lookalike in our special Twins Issue.

Studies confirm that people tend to choose dogs who look like them. Vanity? Familiarity? Call it what you will, but it’s human nature. In this picture, I’m with three dogs. If you didn’t know us, which one would you think was mine?


Even though I love my little Border Collie Mick to pieces, if I had to choose among these three, I might have chosen the tall, curly-haired, golden Labradoodle. I felt a powerful, inexplicable connection between us . . .

We’d love to see you and your best lookalike friend. Email us your photos and a few words to for our special Twins Issue, coming soon.


Meet the Royal Bahamian Potcake

Our Potcake

by Kristin Strong

On August, 2004 we arrived in Nassau, Bahamas for a much-needed vacation. Once we completed checking into our hotel, we took our first walk on beautiful Cable Beach. While walking John and I saw a couple of dogs roaming around the resort. They appeared unwell and malnourished. I later learned that the Bahamian people viewed these feral dogs as a nuisance. They would shoot or poison them. They feared their presence would drive away the tourists that provided their livelihood.

Xuma beacherOn the second day of our vacation, I noticed one particular stray dog hanging around our hotel beach. I said, “John, do you see that dog chewing on a coconut shell? He’s so thin, and look at all the bloody sores.”

John declared with a sigh, “I see. The poor pup.”

One night after dinner, we brought him some filet mignon. Careful not to scare him away, John and I approached the famished, feeble creature. He hesitated—we knew it would take time and patience to earn his trust. After a moment’s indecision, he meekly approached and delicately lifted the piece of meat from John’s hand.

He’d retreat a few safe steps away from us, then devour the meat and return for more. After he’d eaten several bites, he began dashing off with the rest to bury it in the sand.

Xuma beach“Look, do you see what he’s doing?” John asked, obviously amused.

“He must be saving some for later.”

 We nicknamed our new friend Xuma. We decided that we had to do something to help our new friend. We found a brochure for an organization, Proud Paws, run by a British Veterinarian, Dr. Peter Bizzell out of the Palmdale Veterinary Clinic in downtown Nassau. We scheduled an appointment.  

Xuma lounge chairThe night before the appointment we planned to keep Xuma with us. We lured him with food until he got close enough to lasso with a rope we found dangling from a life preserver. Knowing pets were not allowed in the hotel we sat outside on patio chairs until all of the guests where settled in for the night. Once the coast was clear, we whisked Xuma into our arms and snuck him into our room. Xuma slept soundly. I am sure he knew we were there to take care of him and he appeared to trust us more with each passing minute.

When Dr. Bizzel met us in the examination room, he took one look at Xuma and exclaimed, “You got yourselves a Potcake!”

It turned out, “Potcake” is the Bahamian term for the thick, leftover food that remains in the bottom of a pot of peas and rice after several reheatings. Traditionally, Bahamians fed potcake to the indigenous dogs that freely populated the Bahamas. Hence the dogs have come to be known as Potcakes.

As he examined Xuma, Dr. Bizzel explained that some believe the original Potcakes came to the Bahamas with the Arawak Indians from Central or South America. Until very recently, all island dogs shared the same isolated gene pool.  “Potcakes are as close to nature’s perfect genotype dog as possible,” he said. “It’s an extremely unique species of canine.”

Some islands’ Potcakes look more like the typical “pariah dog” found in locales such as India and North Africa. They have smooth, short fur with little or no undercoat, cocked ears, a hound-like rib cage, and long terrier-shaped faces. More rare are the shaggy or rough-coat Potcakes but they do occur naturally. While the typical Potcake is brown, colors range from black, white, cream, yellow, and red. Adults stand about twenty-four inches high at the shoulder. Normal adult weight in the bush is about thirty-five pounds. Healthy, homed Potcakes can weigh anywhere from forty-five to fifty-five pounds. They have distinct characteristics of size and temperament. The Royal Bahamian Potcake is now a recognized breed in The Bahamas.

Dr. Bizzel vaccinated, dewormed, and treated Xuma for sarcoptic mange. We also had him neutered. Dr. Bizzel determined that he was around seven to nine months old.  He only weighed twenty-four pounds.

John asked, “What will become of him now?”

“You have two options,” Dr. Bizzel said. “Either release him back to the island or take him home with you.”

“Fly him back to the U.S.?” John asked, bewildered. It sounded like an impossible journey.

Dr. Bizzell responded with certainty, “Sure, no problem. I’ll have Jackie help you with the paperwork.”

Off we went with his assistant, Jackie, to the Bahamas Board of Health to complete the paperwork to take Xuma home. We had to purchase a crate. We thought we had a setback when we learned that Xuma couldn’t travel on the same airplane home with us. Our airline only flew turbo prop planes into the islands, and it would be too hot in the cargo area for a live animal. He’d have to fly on a different airline, so we bought him his own an airline ticket

When the day arrived for us to fly home we took Xuma to his check-in counter. Before placing him in the crate, I bent down next to him. I hadn’t realized how attached I’d gotten until I thought about how frightened he’d be alone in the belly of the plane. I felt tears on my cheeks and whispered in his ear, “You be a good boy, Xuma. I promise John and I will be there for you once you arrive in Philadelphia.”

Xuma was already visibly terrified by the airport, and so could offer no alleviation to our own anxiety. I put Xuma in the crate, closed the door, turned, and walked away.

“Just focus on the moment when we’ll be reunited,” John said. “We’re doing the right thing, Kristen.”

The flight arrived in Philadelphia right on time. We were elated to be reunited with our Xuma! We couldn’t wait to get him home to introduce him to our other dog, Buddy. In time, they would become the best of buddies.

XumaThe first month, he nearly doubled his weight, and his fur eventually grew back. Sometimes we still observe his survival instinct. Just like on that sandy beach when Xuma buried the steak, he will, on occasion bury a treat in our back yard. His prey drive still run deep in his veins; there’s rarely an opportunity for wild vermin to make it out of our yard alive. One of our favorite pastimes is to take the dogs hiking. Xuma with his inbred and intuitive nature will always lead us to the simplest and safest way up and down the mountain.

Only two weeks after we brought Xuma home Nassau was hit with an intense hurricane. We often wonder had we not brought Xuma home if we would have survived the storm.

IMG_2040 familyWe feel blessed to have found him. We know that fate brought us together that day will be forever grateful. We all live happily together, myself, John, Buddy, and our son, born after we brought Xuma home, Patrick.

Potcakes are an excellent choice for people who want to share their lives with an intelligent, quick-witted, and bonded companion. They’re graceful runners, intuitive, empathetic, and the right match for someone who wants a long-term, interactive relationship with another intelligent species.

Birthday Cake, Razorblades, and Other Dog Food

What Has Your Dog Eaten?

by Lisa Lanser-Rose

Bar soap, a pump bottle of hand cream, a box of crayons, an entire can of Crisco shortening, a pumpkin (everything but the stem), a slice of pizza straight out of a stranger’s hand–all things my Pip-Thief stole and ate.

I was just watching it for you.

“I was just watching it for you.”

All of my dogs, from my childhood dog Patches to my present-day Mick, stole and ate food–or things I never considered food. Whatever the case, stories of the time the dog ate something forbidden, or something dangerous, or something expensive, or something impossible, or something hilarious, all become highlights in the narrative of life with our dogs. Tell us your tales! Just click on “Leave a Comment” below.

To get you started, let me ask:

  • What’s your favorite “I Can’t Believe My Dog Ate It” story?
  • Did your dog know it was wrong to eat something she ate?
  • Did you and your dog ever disagree about what was “edible?”
  • Did your dog wait until you weren’t looking?
  • Were you ever afraid your dog ate something deadly?
  • Did your dog ever steal a holiday meal?
Got a crime-scene photo? Share it!

Got a crime-scene photo? Share it!

And if you like stories about dogs eating what they shouldn’t, please click “like” and follow us here, and like and follow us on Facebook.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Dog-Friendly Hang-Outs

Cocoon Coffee House and Catering Company

by Terri Florentino


(l-r) Brianna, Tulley, Echo, and Terri

I enjoy relaxing with Tulley and Echo while sipping on delicious cup of joe and blogging my heart’s content at a nearby swanky dog-friendly establishment, Cocoon Coffee House. The owners of this charming, historical building, Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger, have done a remarkable job in the preservation, respectfully preserving the integrity and character of the 1893 structure. It’s a fascinating place. Originally, the building housed silk cocoons used for the production of silk, hence the name, ‘The Cocoon.’

Historical establishments serve as reminders of the past. I believe that preserving our past gives us more understanding and hope for the future. The best thing about Cocoon, however, is the staff, who make Tulley and Echo feel like honored guests.

Do you have a favorite place that you and your dog like to frequent, and why? Comment below, or email us a full review with photos!


Terri with Tulley (l) and Echo (r)

Jigsaw Julia

The Art of Toy Herding

by Patricia Kimbell, BCI Contributor

Julia's "I'm So Bored" Look.

Julia’s “I’m So Bored” Look.

Julia, my five-year-old, smooth-coated Border Collie, couldn’t play outside or practice her Agility skills very long each day due to the severe Texas heat this summer.  She learned to conquer her boredom by “herding” her toys.

Sometimes she arranges them, always the pink ones, on the floor and most times on her bed.  Apparently, pink is her favorite color, as she always chooses that color from her toy box. The color choice surprises me, because I had always heard that dogs were colorblind.

She may not be able to control anything else in her little world, but she can control the order of her toys!


DSCN1307DSCN1326I could find no information on any other BC exhibiting this behavior, so thought you might like to see pictures of Julia’s toy arrangements.

The intricate way in which she intertwines her toys reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle.

Four years ago, I found her at an abandoned ranch near me when she was approximately a year old.  She was  starving  and heart-worm infected, trying to dig water out of a dried-up pond. That was on the 4th of July, hence the name “Julia.” She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

5205096764708059358We began Agility training and so far  she has added five titles to her name!

Click to learn more and buy!

Click to learn more and buy!

Editor’s Note: Julia’s artistic arrangements are reminiscent of Dog Works: The Meaning and Magic of Canine Constructions by Vicki Mathison.

What Games Do Your Dogs Invent?

by Lisa Lanser-Rose

People are always saying Border Collies are such clever dogs that, left to amuse themselves, they’ll only make trouble. Sometimes they do, but they also invent perfectly harmless games to play alone–or to lure us into playing with them.

GravityWhen he was tiny Mick used to jump on the chair and drop his ball over the back of it. Then he’d leap after it and repeat. When he got bigger, he’d take it to the top of the stairs and let it bounce down–then roar after it.

Now that he’s older, wiser, and wilier, he’ll drop the ball at my feet, then race around to hide behind the armchair. A moment later, my little ambush predator’s head peeks up over the arm to see if the oblivious ball is coming. It’s so cute, I laugh and throw it for him, of course.


What games do your dogs invent? Here’s one of a corgi playing fetch with himself and the help of a stream. There’s nothing more charming than a clever dog at play!

What Were the First Signs You Were a ‘Dog Person?’

by Lisa Lanser-Rose

Terri and I were talking yesterday about how young we were when we first knew we were ‘dog people.’ We were so young, we don’t remember the stories ourselves. These are stories our parents tell.

Playing_With_The_DogI was four. We didn’t have a dog, but one day my family went to the beach with another family who had a boxer. I ignored the other children and played with the dog. She liked to swim and went into the water. I followed. Everyone watched, amazed, as I copied her and swam for the first time–a dog taught me how to dog paddle!

Terri was also very young. Her family went to visit friends who had two fearsome German Shepherds. The owners shut the dogs in another room and warned everyone to stay away from them. Sometime later, they noticed Terri missing. Alarmed, everyone went looking, hoping she hadn’t wandered into the dogs’ room. They found her there, in her little pink dress, curled up asleep between the two big bad dogs!

When did you—or your family–first realize you were a dog person?


by Terri Johnson Florentino

It’s said a picture says 1000 words, but this picture seems to have said so much more.  John Unger’s picture of him tenderly floating his aging and arthritic dog Schoep in Lake Superior became an instant Internet sensation in 2012 and resurfaced recently upon Schoep’s death:


So what is it about the human-animal bond that so intrigues us? Is it our inherent desire to love and comfort? Do we believe we are better people if we allow ourselves to feel the unconditional love of an animal? Does it help us to feel better about ourselves when we help an innocent creature? Is that why it’s often said in canine rescue, “who saved who?” At what point  do we put too much pressure on our pets to comfort us? Are we guilty of anthropomorphism, or the projection of human motives and behaviors, when we feel loved by and loving toward animals?

So tell me, what word comes to your  mind when you look at the picture of the man with his dog?