So: blue weekend


tiny piece of inspiration

Hooray! The makeover of the formerly boring beige laundry room is pretty much complete—we finished the blue touchups on Sunday afternoon. I still need to get out white paint for the trim and the door, but the ultra blue (the paint color is called Azurean) makes me smile whenever I see it and it really brightens up a room that’s really not known much for fun.


glass tile countertop works great with the wall color, just need to get that white counter trim done

We’re really pleased with how it turned out and I plan on getting the cabinets all organized during this long weekend. There’s a ton of space for the laundry stuff, some cleaning supplies that don’t need to go in the utility closet.

It may even be the home of Morty, the much neglected sewing machine (he really needs to come out and see some use in this last part of 2013). Morty would look pretty slick in this room because he’d stand out. Of course, the sewing basket and all of the fabrics I’ve been saving (truthfully old clothes I’m either going to repurpose or just practice with) should probably live here too.

While the color is certainly not a typical midcentury color (maybe too extreme—you think?), it makes me happy. So does the ironing board cabinet.

Do you have one of these babies in your house? This is the second house that we’ve had that has had such a built-in. In Toronto, we removed one to free up some needed space. Here, it’s perfectly fine where it is, although we don’t really use it. I just love the lattice screen at the bottom. The knob is not original and it’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s here. If I find something cool, I may replace it just for kicks. For now though, it’s fine.


we kept the original ironing board cupboard and ironing board —a little visual interest for the room even though we don’t use it at all

The new ceiling light makes me happy too. The circles remind me a little of soap bubbles which is fun for a laundry room. The designers probably intended some grander purpose for it than lighting up the sorting and folding, pouring and spraying that will happen in here. Maybe a dining room or kitchen—or even a foyer (in Texas, it’s pronounced FOY-yer by the way, so I usually say entry, lest I be accused of putting on airs by Frenchifying the word).

It puts out a ton of light so it’s great for the laundry room. And for lighting up Guinness, who has recently rediscovered his love of the laundry room now that there are no paint cans, tools, and tarps in his way. It’s also a nice place to hide from the younger ones and their rambunctious romping and destroying of toys. Bruce calls George and Gidget the NGs (new Gs) and Guinness and Godiva the OGs (Old Gs).


A bit of the fancy ceiling light…that we picked up at Costco Canada last summer

Speaking of the Gs, Gidget got a bright blue ear on Saturday afternoon as Bruce was painting behind the washer and dryer. That makes her even more official as a member of the 4G Network. Now, every one of those dogs has now gotten paint from this house on them. Guinness and Godiva have gotten orange and avocado green on them, George managed to paint himself with bits of gray while we worked on the office/tv room. And I always manage to get some in my hair too. Not sure what that says about me except that I’m klutzy.


we painted the cabinets blue since leaving them white looked funny and made your eye just look at the wall of white

So that’s what we were up to last weekend. Bruce wants to put a shelf above the washer and dryer, but that’s a project for later once we see how we like the new set up.

We also took Gidget to our vet and found out that she’s not 11 months old. Dr. Hutson thinks Gidget’s probably 8 months old tops.

Now that explains a few things! Gidget decided last Monday that she might like the taste of the bay window sill and moved on to the surfboard coffee table. Luckily, Bruce is handy at fixing wood things, she didn’t hurt herself, and we have gone back to using the crate while we’re gone for during the workday. It’s just too long of a stretch for her to be left to her own devices—and the naughty 3Gs didn’t police her very well. Still, I know she looks forward to the Kong filled with peanut butter (I freeze it for less mess).

At the vet we decided to get her DNA tested like we did for Godiva (lab-bull terrier-chow-English setter) and George (lab-golden retriever-pomeranian-some other small dog). We’ve assumed Guinness is 100% lab but several people have remarked that he might have some Great Dane in him. Looks enough like a lab that we’re not bothering with DNA. I’ll let you know what we find out about Gidget. We should know in a couple of weeks. Any guesses? We think terrier of some sort for sure, but who knows?

Gidget’s gained a few pounds (yay!) and seems to be getting a little bit taller. She also was a wee bit sick and the vet found out she had giardia. Unfortunately, it’s contagious when you have a pack so It’s meant treating all the dogs this week. They haven’t minded much since we mix the medicine (it’s a powder that must taste delicious) with their favorite wet food. They’re going to be sad tomorrow when they take their final dose. They all line up and sit when they see us doling out the wet food and sprinkling the powder on. We have to hold each dog’s bowl to make sure each gets their own dose (it’s by weight). As you know, George would be glad to take everyone’s medicine.

I hope that you’re all doing great. Thank you for your kind words about my last post. We are all so glad that Gidget found her forever home.

PS: I’m sorry that I haven’t written much lately. Work’s been a little nutty. And having a puppy in the house again is keeping everyone on their toes. I’m hoping that things have settled down a bit now.


sow: obscene harvest

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

Don’t worry, friends. That craziness will feed 3 other families this week in addition to Bruce and me. It was a productive two weeks for spinach, chard, mixed salad greens, cilantro, mint, parsley, oregano, red velvet lettuce, candy cane beets (the very first ones!) and bok choi. And it felt awesome to pick everything, feel the sun on my back (hello, farmers’ tan!) and do a little weeding this morning. It’s an exciting time on the Urban Farm — English peas are podding, snow peas are flowering, okra plants are sprouting, salad greens are weed-like, tomato plants are getting huge, peppers are starting to flower, beets/carrots/radishes are all forming, herbs are going insane. So much is going on. The Urban Farm is looking very pretty and there’s lots of deliciousness about to happen. Ah, the relaxation.

As you surmised from yesterday, it’s not been a restful or relaxing weekend around here. Dumps, IKEA, moving furniture, getting rid of stuff, etc, etc, etc. And there will be no rest this week. Destroy! Rip out! Sort! Give away! Donate! Put away! Spring cleaning on steroids. Or as I like to think of it an extended Date Night. At least there’s wine every night as a reward for so much physical labor.

Officially, today we became carpet-free home. All of the beige big box store lowest possible grade carpet is gone. It was an excellent magnet for black lab and yellow lab/golden retriever hair and dander. My allergies (nose and eyes) are going insane with the amount of 47 years of dirt, dust, dog hair and dander that I sucked up with the shop vac and the Dyson Monster. But after a shower and a little down time, I’m feeling better. Still I’m having Zyrtec with a Benedryl chaser tonight before bed. That and all the carrying, hammering, prying, cursing, and working will ensure a sound night’s sleep.

The trim around doors and floors in some of the rooms and hall is also gone. It is a bit unattractive around here and most of our furniture is either in the garage, the living/dining room, or back in the office (office furniture only). We still have a lot of work to do on the office, but we need somewhere clean where we can sit and rest after all of our work. In our bedroom, we put down blankets before we dropped our mattress on the bare floor. And we put some blankets under the dog beds too. We are wearing flip flops inside the house at the moment, despite the double vacuuming efforts. The Gs don’t seem to mind the bare concrete.

However, the Gs are a little unsure of what’s going on. George is slowly but surely getting over his phobia of loud sounds, power tools, the shop vac, and swearing. Godiva and Guinness are happy that we’re leaving all of the back doors open and they can come and go out for a squirrel hunt/bark/pee as they please.  There was lots of snoozing in the sun by those lazy hounds punctuated by squirrel chasing and a little visiting with our friend Camille. Despite the inside the house chaos, the Gs had an awesome weekend outside. Good thing since they’ll have another next weekend.

No sense of getting ahead of ourselves: this week will be busy. We have several rooms and closets yet to prep (aka things to destroy and remove) for Saturday’s bamboo-ing. We need to pour a bit of concrete in the lounge to level the floors where the wet bar and the tv cabinet used to be. We need to assemble the new cabinets on the tv side and get them in place for the bamboo dudes. And there’s a trip to IKEA in order on Thursday night.

We’re going to need our pal Jim the Master Plumber to come and remove/cap the wet bar sink and our other pal David the Master Electrician to move the plug. We’re not keeping the bar wet since in the nearly two years we’ve lived here we’ve never used the sink. But we’ll be adding a beverage fridge eventually so we need to make sure the electrical is ok. David loves what we’re doing with the place—he enjoys being part of the process and likes seeing the progress. Maybe that’s because he’s our age and wishes he had the energy and stamina to make his wife happy with the kind of improvements we’re doing. Seventy-one year old Jim is amused by our renos—the Urban Farm allowed him to share his dating exploits with Bruce (never with me, he’s too Southern). Apparently in East Texas if you are a single man of a certain age, the garden clubs are the best places to meet oil money widows. Rush out there everyone!

Well, George is snoring (loudly) and it’s time for bed. Hope you all had as excellent of a weekend as we did. (Yes. I know we’re crazy.)



Sow: relaxation, Easter edition

Today was a day of regrouping, getting more supplies, chores, and doing some DIY work, but also a day of relaxation.

Usual Sunday morning long walk with the Gs landed us this photo of the Gs sitting pretty in the blue bonnets (the Texas state flower). A neighbor planted them as a wildflower/spring ornamental, so we took advantage of the sidewalk for a photo.


George (yellow), Guinness (black) and Godiva (brown) sitting amongst the blue bonnets on some unsuspecting neighbor’s sidewalk

We cut boards for the office wall today. Needless to say, a new table saw is required to replace the 10+year old table saw which is on its last legs. It has served us well, in many houses, despite adding many colorful words to a religious holiday. Bruce will be researching new options over the next few days. If you are a table saw aficionado, please provide your opinion and suggestions.


The boys know how to relax

I wasn’t kidding about relaxation. After we realized that the saw was, well, not as accurate as it once was, we gave up and decided to enjoy the patio, the blue jays making nests in the live oak, the squirrel taunting the Gs, and the sunshine (rain is predicted for a lot of this week — yippee!). As you can see, Guinness and George approve of the new patio furniture.


Doesn’t Bruce look relaxed?

We called “wine-thirty” a tiny bit earlier than usual and used the time to chill (see, Fransi, we do listen) and enjoy the holiday spirit with some music and relaxation. We are sore from this weekend’s shenanigans, but the work week will fix what ails us.

One last photo: the first radish of 2013:

Bruce said it was delicious

Bruce said it was delicious

Hope everyone had a lovely day today!





Sow: crop update

collards: it's time for them to go

collards: it’s time for them to go

This morning’s watering and romp around the garden with the squirrel hunting posse of labradorian descent gave me lots to think about. As our days are getting longer and warmer, some of the fall stuff must go to make room for the new spring crops.

The brussels sprouts have made it clear to me they need to go so they’ll be on the plate this weekend. And so the collards must go too. They are on the verge of flowering and my guess is if I let that carry on much longer, the plant will be inedible. Then again, who knows? I never really ate collard greens much until I started growing them. And they rewarded me by being easy and providing lots of good eating!

So bye bye collards! You have grown well and provided us with plenty of vitamins, tons of fibre, and lovely greenness. But you’re at the end of your life cycle and it’s time for you to make room for new veg. Maybe the zucchini will go here. Or some lovely peppers. Not sure yet. For now we salute you and bid you adieu. We’ll grow more of you next fall.


all of the spinach is growing beautifully

Our salads these days are mostly spinach, arugula, kale and chard. A deep green and very tasty mixture that holds up pretty well even if you dress it in the morning before work.


red velvet lettuce is getting bigger fast

But I’m starting to dream of the other lettuces that are sprouting up. The red velvet lettuce looks really pretty in its small state. It’s going to be just gorgeous when it’s bigger.


snow peas are getting going quite well

The snow peas are bigger than the English ones. I took shots from two views so you could see how cute the little pea shoots are. I’m excited to see how big they get—and I can’t wait to pick the peas. They are reminding me that I can get pole beans in the ground starting now. If I can find the space, that is…oh wait, maybe they can go where the collards were.


see how nicely spaced the peas are

Today’s gratuitous dog photo (you’re welcome, Julia):


This morning, my 4 legged “helpers” chased each other around the raised beds and hunted squirrels (don’t worry no woodland creatures were harmed) while I watered. Bruce is considering putting up a low fence (2′ high maybe) around the farm to keep the straw mulch in and keep sunbathing hounds out because I’ve found a couple of holes where snouts may have pushed their way into the dirt. And George keeps trying to sneak digs. He has a nice hole started on the opposite side of the yard. And when I yelled at him to stop, Godiva started sulking. Maybe she’s thinking he should help us expand the Urban Farm.

Sow: bloom


This photo doesn’t do the daffodils justice, unfortunately. My poor phone’s flash didn’t light up the darkness very well, did it? Still, it gives you the idea that they are finally blooming after teasing us for the past two weeks. They are planted in big clumps in the front yard and look to be on the verge of springing forth. I’m dying to see what they look like all in bloom—hopefully this weekend they will be in full glorious flower. They are coming up for the very first time since they were planted in January and as the years pass, the clumps will get bigger. Should be fantastic!

This morning during the tomato uncovering (it was around at 40°F at 5 am which was the coldest time of the day, but I am definitely not taking any chances with the spring tomato crop so I covered Raised Bed #4) and seedling watering, I noticed a lot more little sprouts. Still no carrots popping up, but more radishes and beets. The garlic cloves that were sprouting on the kitchen counter that I buried in a big pot have poked through the surface. And the celery is still going strong. The various lettuces seem to be doing really well, but the peas are worrying me since they are sprouting slowly.

I’m feeling a bit slow myself.

Seeing the tonight daffodils perked me up, but the past few days have been crazy at work and I haven’t been getting home as early as I would like. Or that the Gs would like. They aren’t all that impressed with me when I work late since I don’t like walking all three of them once it gets dark. I find that people are just not as careful as they should be as they rush home or to their kids’ activities and we don’t have sidewalks on our street. On the plus side, I’ve been doing a lot of fun things at work—and lots of writing, which is a nice bonus.

But there’s a bigger plus for tonight: Bruce will be back from his business travels any minute.


Sow: getting professional help

One of the things that sold us on the Mortroski Midcentury was its age. Built in 1966, it had the openness and period details (wet bar, exposed brick fireplace) that we were looking for. We would have preferred a truly untouched, un-updated  home, but we didn’t find one that fit that bill during our search.

What we did find here is something we couldn’t add: big trees. As you might remember from one of my earlier posts, these beautiful old trees can cause plumbing problems. They also provide something that is very valuable in north Texas in the summer: shade.

In our backyard, we are fortunate to have a stately live oak tree. We do not know its age but its trunk is bigger around than my arms can reach. It is the reason the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm is in the far right strip of the yard since its branches shade the majority of the space. It is a home to squirrels and a producer of huge amounts of acorns.

The acorns are particularly problematic. A source of extra calories for George and his squirrel pals, the reason we can’t walk barefoot on our patio without getting out a broom or the leaf blower, and apparently a desirable commodity for hunters who use them at their deer leases (the black garbage bags we fill are frequently taken from our monthly yard waste pickup deposits), the acorns just keep on coming down. Usually they start falling in October, peaking in late November or December, but depending upon the weather, they can continue falling through spring.

But even though it was producing a bumper crop of acorns, we were worried about the tree. Neither Bruce nor I knew much about live oaks. There were some soft spots low on the trunk. There was a large spot that looked like the inside of the tree was being exposed. And a large branch was over our roof, just above the chimney so we were concerned about having a fire in our fireplace. Still, it was green and leafy and there were no visible signs of death. Its branches were majestic and full of leaves (and acorns).

Neighbors and friends speculated about the tree. Some gave us names of local landscapers who could take it down for cheap. Others suggested what we could do with the yard if we removed it. Things like pools, outdoor kitchens, an extended patio were mentioned. A few mentioned how sad it would be if it was gone.

We needed a professional opinion. We got the name of a reputable arborist from the company that helped us to revitalize our overgrown front yard so we’d know for certain what was wrong with the tree and if it was so ill that it needed to go. My heart sunk as I steeled myself against the bad news.

Well, the tree did not let me down. Yes, it needs some professional help. Most likely it has never been correctly pruned. It needs some cabling since it has been hit by lightning several times and it has a bit of weakness. It is crowding the magnolia tree. But it does not need to go.

The arborist and his crew will visit the tree next Monday. They’ll lighten up some of its branches. They’ll put the cabling in place. They’ll do what needs to be done. And they’ll let the tree continue to keep shading our house and providing acorns for George and the squirrels.

So: why Guinness loves walks so much

Guinness' "birthday" is St. Patrick's Day

Guinness post-TPLO surgery with a cake from his sweet petsitter Tracey

Our tallest member of the 3G Network is Guinness. Although he and George are the same weight, Guinness looks much bigger since he is so tall. He’s also the oldest member of the 3G Network, even though we don’t know his exact age. And the least healthy of the bunch.

Guinness came to us because a friend who owns a local dog bakery (Three Dog Bakery) knew that we were planning to get another dog to help keep Godiva company. Our plan was to rescue another dog when Godiva was about a year old. We were thinking about a black lab and mentioned that to Christy.

I was on a business trip and was waiting to board my flight in the RDU airport when I got a call from Bruce saying that we were going to foster and possibly keep a black lab that was found in the local school district office parking lot. He was very thin, but friendly. And Bruce suggested if he and Godiva got along well that we should accelerate our plan to rescue another dog.


Of course, Guinness charmed me into submission. Vets and friends in rescue thought he might be 3 or 4 years old. He was gentle and sickly. Skin and bones. Extremely well trained. Perhaps he was a hunting dog-failure based on his obedience and hatred of anything wet. But he was lovely with Godiva and she was excited to have another 4-legged in the house.

Guinness and Godiva in road trip mode, snoozing all the way to Toronto

Guinness and Godiva in road trip mode, snoozing all the way to Toronto

Guinness was instrumental in Godiva’s training. Although she was doing fairly well with her classes, she became a star once she had Guinness to show her the ropes. We found that more than anything Guinness loved his walks and he would not tolerate Godiva acting up on the leash and insisted that she follow the rules.

Our search to figure out what was wrong with Guinness took a while. We knew from day one that something was wrong with this gentle giant. At the risk of grossing everyone out, Guinness has trouble peeing. It took many vet appointments, bladder infections, lots of medication, several scary emergency vet clinic visits and overnights, but eventually it was determined that he has a parasympathetic nervous system issue. In simple terms: his brain doesn’t know how to tell him that he needs to empty his bladder. Both Bruce and I know how to catheterize him (Bruce does it better) and when that treatment is needed, Guinness lies down and patiently waits for relief. This condition is fairly rare but controlled with  daily medication (made in a human compounding pharmacy since it is medication used for humans).

Once Guinness’ chronic condition was figured out, Guinness was still not gaining weight. During a routine exam, we also discovered that Guinness was heartworm positive, although he had initially tested negative. He had been on the run for a while, given his thinness and north Texas is full of mosquitos most of the year. Dogs need to be given heartworm prevention year ’round since the mosquito season is, like everything else weather related here, unpredictable.

Guinness and Godiva visiting Three Dog Bakery

Guinness & Godiva visiting Three Dog Bakery

It’s not a nice treatment. It’s expensive for the people. It’s painful for the dog. But probably worst of all for Guinness, it meant no walks for 3 months. After receiving the injections of the medication to kill the heartworms, the dog has to be still or risk throwing a clot as the dissolving (dead) worms are processed by the bloodstream.

Luckily, Guinness is very mellow for a lab. Bruce joined two large dog crates and got two orthopedic dog beds and made Guinness a double-wide crate (very Texan, don’t you think?). When we were home, Guinness camped out on the sofa. He knew he wasn’t well and so did Godiva. It was a very quiet time for everyone.

We hoped everything was ok with one treatment. In typical Guinness fashion, it was not. He required a second heartworm treatment. And again, no walks for 3 months. Poor buddy.

Once that was over, Guinness thrived. He began playing with toys. He gained weight. He got lots of walks. And he played rough with Godiva.

Wrestling, running and biting are all important parts of dog play. When Godiva was little she used to chase Guinness and squeak because she couldn’t catch him. But as she got bigger and he got better, their speeds were more equal. And being more active led to Guinness’ next health problem.

It started with a limp. Could it be arthritis? Dog pain meds seemed to help and he’d stop limping for a while. Once off the meds, the limp would come back. Then one day it got worse, much worse. Turns out Guinness tore what would be the equivalent of a human ACL. He needed TPLO surgery. Unfortunately this is a common lab issue.

Guinness & lab puppy Gracie

Guinness & lab puppy Gracie

Another convalescence. Guinness was an old pro at resting, but he was healthy except for his leg. He wanted to go for walks, but couldn’t. Godiva knew something was wrong the minute he returned home from the veterinary surgery clinic (of course, this is specialist surgery!). She sniffed his bandaged leg and knew better than trying to get him to play.

One of the funniest moments once Guinness finished resting his leg (again, months) was when I took him back to the clinic to have a meeting with the physiotherapist and learn the exercises that would bring his repaired but atrophied leg back to it’s appropriate strength. The physiotherapist was impressed with how Guinness was healing but thought that he might be a candidate for water therapy. She decided to demonstrate how it worked with another canine patient, a mastiff who had had the TPLO surgery and was having challenges with regaining full use.

The mastiff walked happily into the tank, basically a glass enclosed treadmill. As the physiotherapist shut the door and secured the mastiff’s lead to a hook, water began to fill in the tank. Guinness dove under the chair and tried to hide behind me. Yes, that’s right, our “water dog” HATES water. He will tolerate a bath in our walk-in shower, he will put his paws in a pool to drink, he will cope with a walk in the rain, but he’d rather not be wet. The shocked look on physiotherapist’s face said it all.

Once Guinness realized that he wasn’t getting wet, he came back out from under the chair. I thanked the physiotherapist and said that we’d do the exercises she prescribed and get Guinness back on his normal walking schedule as soon as he was able.

So: security

George: the newest member of the 3G Network

George enjoys tennis balls

At the Mortroski Midcentury, it’s hard to ever be in a bad mood. Especially when you return home from work and are greeted by three enthusiastically wagging tails. Even if you’ve just gone out for a minute or two to drop the recycling off in the bins at the end of the driveway, you’ll still get the same greeting.

If you look carefully while being bombarded by tails, snouts and head butts, you’ll see that one of these things is not like the others. Usually, George, the youngest and newest member of the 3G Network has at least one thing in his mouth. Apparently this is normal behavior for a young laborador retriever/golden retriever.

Since George is a rescue, we have no idea how old he is. When he came to us in late summer 2012, we were told he was about 18 months old. After living with him for a few weeks, we realized he was probably younger. He had many puppy behaviors including needing to go outside in the middle of the night. He grew a bit too and is now 85 pounds. Maybe he’s 18 months now.

Small children have their blankie or a favorite stuffed animal to take with them wherever they go; George isn’t particular, he just has to have something. Anything. In an effort to keep all of the indoor toys from populating the backyard, we’re trying to convince George to drop his toy before going outside. But he’ll immediately look for something to hold in his mouth.

George enjoys stuffed toys

George enjoys stuffed toys too

Security is what George likes. The day we met George, he was carrying a stuffed toy that his foster family gave him. If a toy isn’t in his mouth, it will be under his chin when he’s napping. But before you think he is obsessed with a specific object, he isn’t. He and Godiva often destroy the latest object of his affections through their enthusiastic games of tug of war (despite being smaller, Godiva usually wins). Seams rip. Fluff gets scattered. George will carry the “skin” of the toy around for a while, usually with another toy or ball in his mouth.

More so than the other two, George is happy-go-lucky. Nothing phases him. If Godiva or Guinness get to ride in the truck to pick up dry cleaning or pick up paint at Lowes, George doesn’t pine at the back door like Guinness or pace like Godiva. He holds a toy or two in his mouth and all is right in his world. If he gets caught doing something naughty like digging in the backyard, he stops what he’s doing and grabs a toy. Godiva sulks, tail between her legs.

Not George. He’s got what he needs to make everything ok.

So: why rescue?

The 3G Network: Godiva, Guinness & George

The 3G Network: Godiva, Guinness & George

There are many ways to add a pet to your family. Although our first dog, a bulldog named Daisy, was purchased from a breeder, once we learned how many healthy animals are euthanized each year, we decided to rescue our next dog.

Although we loved Daisy’s sloth and chilled out personality, we wanted a much more active dog at that point in our lives. After a bunch of research, we decided that a labrador retriever would give us the combination of a sweet personality and activity—and all the ball playing that we were used to with Daisy.

Puppy Godiva

Puppy Godiva

Some people think that rescuing a dog means only an adult dog, but unfortunately, there are many people who do not spay or neuter their pets and plenty of puppies end up in city/county shelters. Some never find a home and end up an unfortunate statistic.

Godiva was one of the lucky ones. We were working with a rescue group in East Texas to locate a chocolate lab that needed a home and were asked if we’d consider a pup. She and her litter were dumped at a shelter. When the rescue group showed up to save a few animals, they wanted to give her a chance. So one weekend we drove out to East Texas and had a look at the mangy brown pup. We would have loved to take her home right away, but she needed to have shots, get dewormed, and get fully checked out by a vet since she may never have had any vet care. The following Saturday, we drove back out to East Texas and picked her up at a PetSmart rescue event that the rescue group was putting on.

We decided to call her Godiva, a chocolately, yet free-spirited name that seemed to suit her personality. We knew she was probably born in July, given her age, so we picked Bastille Day (July 14) as her birthday.

Godiva the puppy was everything we hoped she’d be. Curious, fun loving, ball-playing and best of all, a lover of all things water. Our neighbors’ lab Buzz Lightyear (named by the kids in the family) taught Godiva the finer points of lab-style swimming in our backyard pool.

But as Godiva grew, went through puppy school, and continued doing her training to learn how to walk well on the leash and come when called, we noticed that her sleek brown coat was changing. She was starting to sprout a mohawk of wavy fur on her spine. Friends and acquaintances told us she was probably not a lab, but a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She would get a lot bigger.

But the funny thing is she didn’t. At 64 pounds, she’s the smallest of our three—but the leader of the pack. She is sweet and loving and has the most serious “don’t come near our house” bark. Despite being more than 10 pounds lighter than George (the youngest of the three), she is the frequent winner of their tugging games, wrestling and chase. Ducks fear her. Children gravitate towards her because she’s small which is funny to us since Guinness is the most gentle and loves children the most.

When Guinness showed up, she was thrilled to have a new pal to hang out with—and he did an excellent job assisting with her training. When George came along, Godiva paid Guinness’ training forward and helped George learn sit and down in short order.

Godiva is extremely sensitive—don’t say the word “no” or remark “bad girl” unless you want to see her pout, head down, tail between her legs. But show her a squeaky toy or find her a tennis ball in the bushes outside the tennis court in the park, her tail won’t quit. She is my gardening helper and loves to hang out with me whenever I’m puttering around the urban farm, lying in the sun at the foot of one of the raised beds.

She’s not a Chesie, by the way. At a friend’s suggestion, we did a DNA test to figure out her background. Godiva is: lab (mostly), bull terrier, chow and English Setter!

Some people think that rescued dogs know they’ve been rescued. I’m not sure about that, but what I do know is we are lucky to have Godiva in our lives. She makes everyone around her feel like the most important person in the world.

Full disclosure: we have a lot of friends in the rescue world, Bruce has undergone training to help save animals from hoarder/puppy mill situations, and all three of our dogs are rescues.