Changing of the Guard

or the pup, as the case may be. Yes, our dear Dogzilla, Electra, has gone off to college and a new pup has taken her place. It seemed to be a traumatic event for my Mom Person. She sometimes can be so emotional. But I don’t mind providing the needed comfort. We did have some good times with that crazy pup. I have to admit she was quite entertaining.

For the week before they all went off to Florida there were lots of tears flowing. For that crazy pup!!! But from what I hear, Ms Electra proved to be quite the champ on the trip. My friend, Sarah, at Dr Bruton’s office had a talk with her on our last visit there. I don’t know what exactly was said, but it must have made an impression on Electra. I’m glad she didn’t make a fool of herself.

So Electra is now off to the kennels with a new roommate to lay on. She’ll be getting some top notch schooling and I think that she will probably enjoy that. She always really liked school. Hooray for Electra! And Hooray for us!!

And now there’s a new pup in town. Her name is Marni. My Mom Person puts a lot of stock in names. Names are important. I don’t know what Marni means. It sounds kind of like a flower to me. I seem to remember that there is a movie called Marnie. That Marnie was a liar and a thief. Hmmmm. Maybe I should find a good place to hide my tennis balls. I’ll try to keep that vision of a flower in mind. I must say that Marnie’s Mom did a better job of teaching her some manners than did Ms Electra’s. Marni is pretty flighty like Electra, but much more polite about it. She’s more of a Sparky than an Electra.

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So now it starts all over again. Ah me. Well, maybe now we can get back to bookish things.

If you are at all interested in more of this tale of pups you can visit HERE.

Wishing you the JOY of new adventures!
Your friend
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When Pigasso Met Mootisse

My big little brother, Walker, is a pretty laid-back, unassuming kind of fellow. Rather quiet. A listener rather than a talker. I’ve never, ever heard him bark. Whine and snore, but never bark. He happens to be an artist. An artist of great renown around these parts. He paints abstract things using his tail and his feet and puts all his happy thoughts into his work. On occasion he has done exhibitions at school and art club meetings and once at the hospital.

I have talked about Walker and his painting before. You might remember. Or might not. You can see more HERE and HERE and HERE.

boys and walker may2011 011Sometimes when he visits a classroom he takes some art books with him to share and encourage some artsy conversation. We recently came across a great book by Ms Nina Laden (who wrote the great book The Night I Followed the Dog)!!!

IMG_2416When Pigasso met Mootisse
by Nina Laden
published by Chronicle Books in 1998

a fiction book suitable for kindergarten and up

Themes – art, friendship, conflict resolution

It begins –
There once was a young pig named Pigasso. While the other piglets rolled in the mud and played games, Pigasso painted. He painted anything and everything, and in a most unusual way.

This is a tale of two artists – a pig named Pigasso who painted in a “most unusual way” and a bull named Mootisse who painted “big, bold, bright pictures.” They both became very famous in their communities. (Much like my Walker.) They became art superstars and everyone wanted their paintings and their photographs and all that stuff that seems to come with being famous. They both decided they needed to get away and find a peaceful place to paint. They ended up finding farms right across the street from each other!!! And they became good friends.

IMG_2417But after awhile they started getting in fights over their work! Criticizing and complaining and calling each other names. (I’ve seen friends at school do this to each other. A very sad thing. šŸ˜¦ ) They put up a fence right down the middle of their road! Silly artists. Then they began to miss each other. They got lonely. But they were pig-headed and bull-headed and couldn’t bring themselves to kiss and make up. But they did resolve the problem in a most unique way! With paint! Artwork really can speak volumes. And you will have to SEE how they resolved their differences when you check out this book!!!

This tale is kind of a caricature of two REAL artists – Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse and at the end of the book there is a brief biography of these two. I’ve seen quite a bit about Mr Matisse in the media lately with books likeĀ henris scissors and

matisse. Those would be some good books to read along with this one.

After reading a bit the kids in the class got to do some painting of their own! They did some fingerpainting, kind of like Walker, and kind of like Mr Pigasso and Mr Mootisse!!

IMG_2336They sure had a great time!!!! And I don’t think there was any fighting!

For a list of PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and accompanying resources please visit Ms Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE!

Now it’s your turn! Go out this weekend and let your feelings fly! Paint a masterpiece!!
Your tail waggin’ friend
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National Seeing Eye Dog Day

img431Today, January 29, is National Seeing Eye Dog Day. A day to recognize the JOY that is a working guide dog. A seeing eye dog becomes the eyes for someone who cannot see. They become an unbeatable team!

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Michael Jernigan and his guide dog Brittani

It all started with a serendipitous intertwining of a few forward thinking individuals. A lot of veterans came away from the terror that was World War I, blinded and in need of assistance. A school was set up in Germany to train German Shepherd Dogs to assist these veterans. An American lady, Ms Dorothy Eustis, happened to be in Switzerland and learned about this German school. She was so impressed that in 1927 she wrote an article for “The Saturday Evening Post” about these “seeing eye dogs.” And she began her own training school. In America, a blind man, Mr Morris Frank was read the article by his father and he decided that a seeing eye dog was just what he needed! He contacted Ms Eustis to see if he could come train with her and receive one of her dogs. He promised to come back to the United States and teach others.

morris-frank-and-buddy-2In 1928 Buddy, the German Shepherd, became the first seeing eye dog in the United States and Mr Frank was the first blind person in the US to use a seeing eye dog! And in 1929 The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School was established in Nashville, Tennesseee. In 1966 the school moved to its present location, Morristown, New Jersey. It is the oldest existing guide dog school in the US.

I came from a Guide Dog school, myself. Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida.

img338That ultimately was not my destiny, but we stay connnected to the school and continue to raise pups for them. Our little Dogzilla, Electra, is one such pup. And we also like to educate folks about guide dogs.

jolly last day 004This is our friend Mr Allen Preston and his guide dog Jolly doing a presentation at our school. Jolly was a pup that we raised for Southeastern Guide Dogs and ultimately for Mr Preston.

For more information about Guide Dogs visit The National Association of Guide Dog Users website HERE.

For more information about blindness visit the National Federation of the Blind website HERE.

To find out what day to day life is like for a working guide dog team visit Jo and Wiley at their blog Daily Life of a Guide Dog HERE.

Find out more about Michael Jernigan HERE and HERE.

And here is Mr Morris Frank in his own words —

I hope that you will do a little research today and learn what you can about Seeing Eye Dogs and the kind of difference they make in a blind person’s life.

Wishing you a day of thankful independence!
Your friend
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Milking Time

IMG_2410There are quite a few animals that live here at the 7 Acre Wood. Dogs and cats and chickens and guineas and goats and a pony. And a couple of donkeys across our fence at the neighbors. But no cows. No cows at all. I don’t know much about cows. I’ve seen them here and there, but have never actually known any. But lots of my reader friends know about cows. Many of them have cows at home. Many of them show cows at county fairs. They probably know more about cows than about dogs! Imagine that?!

Well, we came across a lovely picture book about cows. Dairy cows. Where milk comes from. I don’t know much about milk either. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted the stuff. But milk is another thing that my reader friends know all about.

IMG_1529It’s Milking Time
by Phyllis Alsdurf
illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
published by Random House in 2012

It begins –
Every morning, every night,
it’s milking time.

This refrain is sung throughout the story. Milking cows is hard work. This is the story of a young girl helping her Dad with the milking duties. She brings the cows in from the pasture, and helps Dad get the barn ready for them so they can be fed and milked. She feeds the pen full of little calves. And helps with all the clean-up chores. It’s kind of a love story – love between girl and Dad and love for the cows who provide the milk.

IMG_1531The text is sing-song and lyrical. There seems to be some Rhythm in milking! “Cuds a-chewing, tails a-swatting, hooves a-pounding, into the barnyard they trudge.” Pure poetry. The illustrations are really lovely, soft and realistic. It’s a soft, quiet kind of book.

This book was a big hit with my readers. They chanted along with “every morning and every night.” They all knew what that was all about.

This is another entry in Gargoyle Bruce’s Small Fry Safari Reading Challenge. I believe it fits in Category #3 – A book with a specific time in the title. You can find out more about this challenge by visiting The Bookshelf Gargoyle HERE. You’ll find the whole list of categories and all the other entries.

You can find out more about dairy farming at the Dairy Farming website HERE.

And did you know that cows like jazz?

I wish for you a tall glass of milk with a little jazz on the side
every morning and every night!
Sweet dreaming to you
Your friend
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Rugby & Rosie

We are all about guide dogs here at the 7 Acre Wood. And goats. And grapes. And swimming. And tennis balls. But I digress. I want to talk about guide dogs today. My family here has raised guide dog pups off and on for a good number of years. The very first one was a black Lab named Gretta. During her long, illustrious life she actually achieved Sainthood. St Gretta came from a guide dog school in California called Guide Dogs For the Blind.

img502All the other pups that have passed through our gates have come from a guide dog school in Florida called Southeastern Guide Dogs. Including myself.

img338And my buddy Walker –

scarb fair 5-08 016And now Electra –

IMG_5312There have been others in between. Some have made the humans proud and become working guide dogs. Some have made the humans proud and been extraordinary therapy dogs.

The life of a guide dog puppy in training is an emotional ride – for the humans and for the pups. There is a real bond that develops and lots of love is invested and then the pup has to move on to other things. The humans have to let go. The pup has to let go. And both have to create new bonds and new attachments. Some dogs just can’t do it. I couldn’t and came back to live where I knew I belonged. Only about half of the pups that return to school actually go on to become working guide dogs. Statistics show that a higher percentage of Labs become working guide dogs than any other breed. I think that that may be because we Labs are basically happy with anyone who feeds us on a regular basis.

Anyway, I have a Perfect Picture Book for you that’s about a year with a guide dog pup.

IMG_5796Rugby & Rosie
by Nan Parson Rossiter
published by Dutton Children’s Books
in 1997

Theme – dog training, guide dog pups, friendship

It begins-
Rugby is my dog. He is a chocolate Labrador, and we have had him for as long as I can remember.
We used to do everything together – just the two of us.
Then Rosie came.

The narrator of the story is a young boy who has a really close friendship with his dog, Rugby. One day his dad comes home with a little yellow pup named Rosie. Rosie was a guide dog pup and would only live with the family for one year. The boy knew all about this, but didn’t know how to tell Rugby. Rugby was not happy about the new pup. She tried to get him to play, but the wasn’t interested. It took him quite a while to decide that she wasn’t going anywhere and he might as well make friends. After that the two dogs were always together, romping and playing and napping. Rosie needed a lot of extra training out in public where Rugby didn’t get to go. But he was always waiting when they returned home.

Then the day came that Rosie had to return to the guide dog school. Everyone was sad. Even Rugby. Rosie became a guide dog and the family, along with Rugby, got to go to the graduation ceremony and see Rosie again and meet her new person. They saw that Rosie was happy and making a difference in the life of this new person. All because of their love and devotion. They were all very proud of her.

IMG_5793This book makes my Mom Person cry every time she reads it. It’s a well done story. You can see and feel all the emotions tugging at everyone. Even the dogs. When we read this book to kids, there is always a discussion about letting go. Life is full of letting go. Even if you’re a little person growing up.

There are 13 accredited guide dog schools in the United States. For information about all of them visit the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website.

If there is a school near you, you might want to go for a visit. I know that Southeastern has puppy hugging days when they let people come play with all the pups. You can visit their website and find out all about pups and being a volunteer puppy raiser.

HERE is a link to some thoughts on etiquette when encountering a guide dog team.

HERE is an article for kids about blindness.

You could have a discussion about being blind. Put on blindfolds and take a Listening Walk around the room. Think about how you would be using all your other senses if you couldn’t see.

Here is a little video to show you what it’s all about — enjoy —

And now you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to see a whole big list of Perfect Picture Books and resources to go with! — Enjoy!!

Your friend indeed

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Tiger of the Snows

This is Perfect Picture Book Friday as declared by Susanna Leonard Hill! The day that lots of fabulous Picture Books come to light.

I found a truly Perfect one at our school library. The school library isn’t really big, but they sure have some fantastic books on their shelves!

Tiger of the Snows is one of these books. It’s about mountain climbing. I’ve climbed a few mountains in my day, but nothing like this mountain! Whew!!

IMG_4907Tiger of the Snows, Tenzing Norgay: The boy whose dream was Everest, is a biography about the sherpa, Tenzing Norgay who was part of the team to first reach the top of Mt Everest. He and New Zealander, Edmund Hillary, are quite famous for this feat.

This book was written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated exquisitely by Ed Young.
It was published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2006

It is suitable for ages 7 and up. I think that kids from 4th grade and up would appreciate the story most.

Themes – mountain climbing, achieving your dreams,

The story is written in verse and begins –

A song for Tenzing,
Tenzing Norgay,
Mountain man,
Tiger of the snows,
Because today
He will climb to the top of the world:

The story is a beautiful ode to a remarkable man and his love andĀ  passion for a formidable mountain. Tenzing grew up in the Himalayas in the shadow of the great Mt Everest. He tended his fathers yaks and dreamed of the mountain. He ran away from home and became a mountain carrier so that he could learn the secrets of the mountain. Then he became a sherpa, guiding people on mountain trails.

On May 29, 1953, along with Edmund Hillary, he stepped onto the top of the mountain and the top of the world and reached the pinnacle of his dreams.

The sing song verse of Mr Burleigh lets you feel the cold and the danger of every step they take. And the artwork shows the immensity of the mountain and incredibly harsh conditions that these tiny men faced. The art and words together paint a beautiful picture.

IMG_4909I LOVE this book! It makes me want to find out more about these incredible men. Tenzing wrote an autobiography titled Tiger of the Snows. And there has been much written about Edmund Hillary. His son Peter has a website and links for kids with lots of good info about his father and Tenzing and Mt Everest. You can check it out HERE.

In 2002 Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing Norgay followed their fathers footsteps up Mt Everest. National Geographic made a film of this effort.
Here is a clip from the video.

For a virtual climb on Everest check out

Mountain climbing, and climbing Mt Everest in particular, has become an extremely popular adventure experience. There seems to be constant traffic these days going up and down the mountain. A discussion about the impact of all this traffic on the mountain itself and the surrounding communities would be a good thing to have. An interesting article on this topic can be found HERE. And NPR had a nice story HERE.

For more Perfect Picture Books and great resources to go along with, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.

And I’ll leave you with a little video about the Great Climb of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary –

Happy climbing to you! May you reach your dreams!
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Tuesday Mischief

Some of my dog blog buddies do a blog hop tour on Mondays called Monday Mischief. I like to see what kind of mischief they all get into. It makes me smile to imagine all the fun. I’m not usually into that mischief stuff. But today I kind of got a wild hair or a bee in my bonnet or something.

IMG_2802Our morning routine is to go out and feed the goats and the pony and the chickens and then go walking. I usually let the Mom Person go feed everybody and I wait at the top of the hill. But I got bored today. She was taking too long. So I went wandering instead.

IMG_2255And while I was wandering, the Mom Person was wondering where I was. You see, I never stray far from her. I usually like to keep my eye on her. But like I said, that bee was buzzing in my bonnet.

She claims that she called my name a lot — “RHYTHM!!!”. And that she blew that shrill whistle — “TWEEEEET!!” that I ALWAYS come running to because it means GOOD TREATS. But I never heard any of it. I was enjoying the cool morning and all the nature around me. I made my way back to the house where she eventually found me. She was kind of overly joyful at the sight of me. It’s always good to get that love!

And where was I wandering? I’ll never tell!

IMG_5645Mischief?! Me?!

I hope you have a fun week full of happy surprises! But watch out for those bees! They can get you in trouble!

Rhythm (the Mischief Chief)

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Gone Fishing

We had a pretty good rain recently that put some water back in our river. Hallelujah!! So the Mom Person decided we should go down and do a little fishing. Fishing?!

This is my idea of Fishing —

CIMG7125This is the Mom Person’s idea of Fishing —

IMG_3571Now tell me — does that look like fun?!

We didn’t catch any fish. We saw some fish. And a crawdad. And some raccoon tracks. We did not catch any fish. So we went back to the house to read some books about catching fish. The Mom Person’s answer to every problem.

IMG_3576Gone Fishing, a Novel in Verse is an excellent book by Tamera Will Wissinger and illustrated with much whimsy by Matthew Cordell. It was published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin.

Ms Wissinger “was inspired to write this novel in verse, her first book, after writing ‘Night Crawlers,’ a poem that stemmed from childhood memories of night crawler hunting with her mom and dad before fishing trips.” This is a thoroughly FUN book! It is a collection of poems that fit together one right after another to tell a story about a young lad, Sam, who is sooooooooo looking forward to going fishing tomorrow with JUST his DAD. But then his little sister Lucy wants to come too! And Dad lets her!! Sam goes through a lot of frustration and anger at first, but then discovers that sisters aren’t all that bad. A great book about sibling rivalry and finding a common bond.


At the back of the book is The Poet’s Tackle Box with lots of information about writing poetry. An excellent resource!

I love this book!!

The next book we read was a shorter, more flamboyant book – Fishing in the Air. This one is by one of my all time favorite authors, Sharon Creech, who wrote Love That Dog. And Fishing in the Air is illustrated by another favorite – Chris Raschka who did The Daisy Books and several cool Jazz books. Fishing in the Air is another tale of boy and Dad going fishing. No sister this time. They dig up worms and pack two poles and a sack of sandwiches. And Dad says “We’re going on a journey. To a secret place. We’ll catch the air! We’ll catch a breeze!” This is a story about the magical world all around us. Where street lamps become moons and trees become soldiers and birds become singing angels. The boy and his Dad fish in the clear, cool river and talk about when the Dad was a boy. This is a magical book with magical pictures and a clear, cool river. Ahhhhhhh!


I love this book, too!!

I hope that you will visit the author and illustrator websites by clicking on their names above. I think that you will find yourself entertained.

And here is a little video of Mr Raschka in his studio – enjoy!

I wish you Joyful days of fishing for magic in the clear, cool river —


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Eating out

The other day I told you all about some fine “eating out” opportunities in Glen Rose. While doing that post, we did a lot of reading at the library of books about eating out at restaurants and just eating in general. The fine Library Ladies did some research and came up with a big stack of books. Whew! You would not believe how many picture books there are about eating out!! I picked out my favorites to share with you.


img407The Berenstain Bears are always a fun read. And a favorite with most kids. The Berenstain Bears Go Out to Eat is a nice story about a nice family who does their chores without whining, they work hard, and are considerate of one another. It was written by Jan & Mike Berenstain and published by Harper Festival in 2010. The family decides to take Mama out to dinner because she works hardest of anyone. The dinner out does not go completely smoothly, but no one complains or gets upset. They enjoy each other’s company and the kids even eat their broccoli! And Mama says it’s just what she needed!!

froggyFroggy Eats Out is by Jonathan London with illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz. It was published by Viking in 2001. Froggy is another favorite. He is such a joyfully enthusiastic critter! In this story, Froggy is hungry and dreaming about burgers and flies. Flies! His mother tells him that they are going out to eat at a fancy restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. Froggy has to put on his nice clothes – zip, zut, zoop! Then they’re off to the fancy restaurant where mother says he has to “be neat, be quiet, and don’t put your feet on the table.” Froggy has a hard time being still and does a lot of silly things and ends up making a big embarrassing mess. So they decide they need to go eat at a fast flies place instead and there they have a wonderful time. Happy ending!

img406On Top of Spaghetti was written and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson and based on the song with lyrics by Tom Glazer. It was published by Scholastic Press in 2006. This is a really cute, funny book. It’s the story of Yodeler Jones who has a spaghetti restaurant and decides he needs to come up with the most dee-licious meatball around. But his helper mouse SNEEZED! and the meatball rolled out of the door — and the chase is on! The meatball flies down the street ricocheting off people’s heads until it lands under a bush and turns into mush. And if you know the song — you know what happens next! Words and music for the song are at the end of the book. And recipes are on the back. An all around yummy book!!

princess pickyPrincess Picky is by Marjorie Priceman and published by Roaring Brook Press in 2002. It’s about a princess who refuses to eat her vegetables. Her worried dad, the King, orders his staff to come up with fantastic bribes to entice her to eat. The bribes are all pretty silly until the wizard asks her what she wants and then gives her some magic seeds that will surely bring her all of those things. It’s a cute book with some wacky, fun illustrations.

dinosAnd since I live in the Land of the Dinosaurs, of course I have a dinosaur book for you! How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? is by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. It was published by Blue Sky Press in 2005. This duo makes for great books. There is a whole series of these books about how dinosaurs do things — like say good night, and get well, and count to ten and ….. I love all of these books and you need to check them all out because they are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone!!

neverAnd I think my favorite of this bunch of books is a Charlie and Lola book titled I Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato. I LOVE Charlie and Lola, and so do the kids at the library. This is another series of fun books by Lauren Child. I love the pictures in these books — they’re kind of collages with real photos mixed in with simple artwork. This story is kind of like the picky princess. Here, Lola is the picky princess. She won’t eat anything until Charlie figures out how to trick her into eating. He’s very clever!!! And you’ll have to read it to find out what he does!!

Here is the official website for the Berenstain Bears

A video interview with Mark Teague

And a special TREAT!Ā  Little Richard sings On Top of Spaghetti!