Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Joy of Christmas - Celebrating with a Grateful Heart

Mommy and I had a fun time the other night when she dressed me up and took photos of me by the tree. Now, as I have shared in past stories, I don't always enjoy wearing anything that might possibly be related to a sweater. I will climb under 5 blankets at once, and love to crawl into a fresh pile of clean warm laundry from the dryer...but by golly, wearing one little dress can be a real bother. However, I am so grateful to be with my Mommy and I have such a wonderful home full of love, that I wear the things she occasionally puts on me with a grateful heart. I think of it as one of my gifts to her, a selfless act to put a smile on her face and let her know that I appreciate her.

I think it is important to do little things like this for those we care about and love, as well as doing things for people we do not know. We all have moments of needing someone to be there for us, even if just for a few minutes. For example, Mommy met a very kind gentleman from Russia the other day who was visiting in our area. His car had broken down in a parking lot, and she and some others tried to be of assistance. He was very kind and even gave Mommy a little gift just because she had tried to help him. To me, they both had a grateful heart and took the time to be of a generous nature and step beyond their own self.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

At Christmas time, as stated in one of my families most favorite stories, A Christmas Carol, want is often more keenly felt. This blessed holiday is often rushed through by so many people, and the real meaning, the real joy of Christmas is sometimes missed. It would do us all good to seek out moments when we can give to another, even by simply giving a complement, or lending a hand for just a few minutes. We get so overwhelmed by our own insecurities, fears or problems that we can often miss opportunities to make another feel good. In turn it makes our own heart feel lighter when we give of ourselves.
You know, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and share in celebrating a grateful heart at Christmas, it makes me remember that, while Jesus was on earth as a man, He had little, yet He gave so much. In one moment, He could make a person feel so special, appreciated and lighthearted.




Laughing with Mommy is such a joy!
I know that my choice to be giving to my Mommy by wearing that dress with a grateful heart (even though I was a bit concerned that it would take all my doggie super powers away), Mommy and I had a great time taking the photos she wanted so much. We had some good laughs too. She made me about spit a treat out of my mouth when she made the cat, Noel, jump into the air with a toy! My little loving act of letting her put that dress on me, and even drumming up enough will power to do a trick or two for her, gave us both a light heart and a wonderful celebration of the loving connection we share.

I hope that everyone has a joyous holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and I hope that the coming new year gives each of us more opportunities to celebrate each day with a joyful and grateful heart. I would love to hear about your own experiences or 'tales' of this type. Just click on 'Comment' below this blog post here and tell me all about it. I will have a special blog post sharing some of the stories! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Joy of Being Lighthearted II - More Motivational Posters

With all the negative stuff on the news, I thought it was time for a new round of Pixel Motivational Posters to get some more lightheartedness out there again. Getting motivated can be difficult sometimes for all of us, but it never hurts to keep trying. Sometimes I have a heck of a time getting my Mommy motivated enough to get out of bed at 5am to feed me 3 hours earlier than our agreed upon schedule...it can be so taxing on a mini schnauzer like me, but I keep trying.



Sometimes, being lighthearted means making a bit of fun of yourself, or having a laugh at your own expense, which might make others feel at ease in a tough situation, or just help your own heart feel lighter. Sometimes, if Mommy seems too serious or isn't feeling all that great, I will grab one of my rattle toys (I love rattles!) and run around all crazy begging her to chase me. That is probably why I sometimes have a bad hair day after all play! But I don't care as long as I help Mommy feel more lighthearted.


 Sometimes we can be lighthearted as we learn from our mistakes. Mommy and I know all too well the concept of 'biting off more than you can chew'. Once I tried to eat a rawhide that was almost as big as my entire mouth, but Mommy taught me moderation that day, whether I wanted to learn it or not.
And, no matter what, you always have choices, so make sure you make the right choice. If it brings sheer joy, it very well might be the right choice. Mommy teases me because I always seem to find the toy with the rattle in it. Well, if you loved that sound as much as I do, you'd be choosing the rattle toys too!
I originally shared these new motivational posters on my recently acquired Twitter account, www.twitter.com/. I love sharing my little thoughts on life when they come to me, so I hope you decide to become a follower. I promise only joy and joyness will flow from my tweets. You will love it!


If you have any motivational words or ideas I could create a poster for, leave me a comment and let me know! I always love hearing from you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY PIXEL!

Pixel's Mommy here. She would be shocked to know that I have a copy of her password to her blog, but I just had to sneak in and say....

Happy Birthday Pixel!!!!!

We will be celebrating her birthday this weekend, but I could not let the day pass without sharing this. Pixel is the sweetest, prettiest, smartest, most talented schnauzer on the planet and it is my honor to be her Mommy. As I watch her sleep right now, her sweet little freckles are peeking through her white fur, and she is just amazing to me. Her wit, her tender "Nurse Pixel" ways, her unconditional love, her need to forever cuddle, the creative games she plays, the many tricks she has 'taught me'...this little dog has brought so much joy to me and I am blessed beyond measure to be hers. 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Joy of Giving Thanks Every Day

We have had the most wonderful Thanksgiving holiday celebration at my house over the last few days. For me, every day is a day to be grateful for my blessings and my life. Taking time to give thanks is something we all can and should do, everyday. No matter who we are, no matter what our lives are like, there is always something to be thankful for, even when times are especially difficult. It is important for our hearts to find those things to be grateful for, and really let it sink in.


I am so thankful to be with my Mommy, who adopted me almost four years ago. I will never forget the first time I saw her...I had waited for her my whole life! The photo here is of us the day she took me home...I felt so safe. She is my world and I am hers. She is always happy to see me, no matter how she is feeling, and I am the same way with her. It makes life so much more joyful...even when she makes me wear sweaters!


I am thankful for all of my wonderful family, including my Uncle Jessie (the big dog with the sweet smile); my Uncle Happydog (he and I love to goof off together and lay on each other), my funny, pretty cousin Peanut, who strangely enough loves to wear sweaters when I have told her time and again that they sap all our dog powers; my cat sister Noel (our Christmas tree kitten whom I LOVE to wrassle with and take naps with); our sweet orange tabby MeowMeow, and our newest little white kittie named Snowflake, who showed up starving on our back deck and has now moved in as our trouble making foster kitten. She gets into more things than I ever possibly could think up!

We all have fun together with our wonderful human pack, who lovingly spoil us and let all of us little dogs and cats pile on the beds with them. (Jessie lays close by...he is just a little too big to get on the beds.)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








Now, as I think on a dog's life and all the things I am grateful for, my mind cannot help but wander back to my excitement and wonderful memories of the holiday feasting we all did. With all that food being prepped, cooked, and eaten...a piece of turkey was bound to fall right in front of me. All of us dogs and cats were raised hearing the amazing stories of the 'mystery piece of turkey or sweet potato' magically falling to the floor while watchful pets anticipate that perfect moment...just waiting to scarf it up. Why do you think we are always under foot in the kitchen? That is the way it is with dogs and cats...we are always thinking and planning our next move.

Anyways, my moment indeed arrived, except my food was on my Mommy's plate and on her FORK! She kept conveniently losing where her fork was...and I took full advantage. She might never admit this...but I am pretty sure she knew the whole time. As I have said...I LOVE my Mommy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Joy of Hard Work and Cute Dog Tricks - New Video Starring Pixel

I was barely 3 months old when I looked my Mommy in the eyes and let her know I was a trick dog. It didn't matter that I didn't know any tricks yet...I just knew it. Maybe I was born to make people smile, or at least try my best to bring more joy...to my family and friends everywhere. I mean, look at this face...maybe I was meant to be right here...sharing adventures on the internet. Who knows? What I do know is that being a trick dog, among other things in my life, is definitely fun and exciting. I have learned some really cool tricks over the years, and I am still taking on more challenges. It does, however, take lots of time, dedication and practice, for both me and my Mommy, who trains me to do them. I know I shared a list of the the tricks I have mastered in an earlier blog post of mine, but I have a video to share that you simply have GOT TO SHARE with everyone you know. It is one of my favorites and will definitely bring a smile to your face.

One of the latest tricks I learned earlier this year was also one of the toughest ones to master. It is called, "How Does A Car Go?" I know, what an incredibly odd name for a trick, but you can blame Mommy for it...I'm just the victim of her creativity. It is a really cool trick and I love doing it, because it makes everyone crack up so hard when I really get it going good, like in the video here (you can also see it on YouTube full screen on my Pixel Blue Eyes channel). Sometimes, if I have had plenty of water to drink, have really practiced a lot and Mommy has some treat or dinner that smells super good or involves peanut butter, I can totally make my voice sound like a really cool car revving its engine.
I practice whenever I can, and I am so glad that I finally got this trick down pat. For some reason, it was just harder than others. It is funny, because there would be times when Mommy would have this peanut butter all over her fingers, asking me in the sweetest voice, "How does a car go? Pixel, how does a car go?" She knew I could do it, and I knew I could do it, but somehow it just would not come. But we kept at it, and when I would have trouble getting it, sometimes she would give me the treat anyways, for moral support and just for trying to make a good effort. She is so patient and has never pushed me, it is always just like a game. Well, for this trick, I just tried and tried and tried, and then one day, I could suddenly just do it like a pro, right on cue. Mommy says that it's the same way with juggling, but I have no idea what that means. As long as I get that peanut butter, I just nod in agreement.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of my hard work and efforts to 'make a car go'.
And please, I would love to have you follow me on Twitter. Lots of fun things to share as only a Pixel can! Just click the twitter button on this page (you can't miss it..big blue bird), which takes you to my Pixel Blue Eyes page, and then click the 'Follow' button. Then you can share in my sage words of advice, or just listen when I rant about the cat!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Joy of Making a Difference - Finding Hope in Times of Tragedy

Pixel Blue Eyes is back from a much too long hiatus. It feels so good to get back into sharing my 'tails of adventure' again. This 'tail' is a bit different than my other ones. See, my sweet family and I have had some pretty intense events happen in our lives in the last few months, and that is why I have been amiss for a while.  One of the biggest things to occur was on April 27-28, 2011. Although that was a few months ago, this is an important 'tail' to tell...of finding hope in a time of tragedy.
It was the night when horrible tornadoes tore through several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and our wonderful Appalachian mountains of southwest Virginia. They came within miles of our house. They say it was the biggest tornado outbreak in U.S. history, and there was a bunch of them. My family and I spent most of the night in the basement, with me inside my 'puppy pouch' that Mommy wears so I can be right there with her. Now, understand that it was 4 humans and 6 dogs and cats all crammed into a smaller-than-comfortable area. We spent hours down there. Mommy kept getting weather updates on her cell phone and it kept giving us tornado warnings. It was really scary. I just hid my face while Mommy cuddled me. I know a lot of families did the same thing that night. That phone kept beeping at us and everyone seemed really nervous. Even after we all went back upstairs after midnight, my mommy and I stayed up most of that fateful night scared of what we heard outside, as the tornadoes created a massive path of tortuous devastation right near our home.
Our neighbors and surrounding communities were hit HARD. The morning after the tornadoes, it was like a horror show for mass destruction. The interstate had cars and tractor trailers strewn like dog bones and toys because the local truck stop was right in the path of one of those tornadoes. Houses were absolutely gutted, there were roofs torn off of buildings, businesses were reduced to rubble, not to mention all the siding, insulation and large metal pieces of buildings that were wrapped around bent, twisted, torn apart trees. Mommy says it was like the trees were just snapped in two. Some people and pets in our area died that night. It was an absolute nightmare.
Mommy and I, our family and hundreds of people all around our area went into immediate action to help out. People started collecting food, water, basic need supplies, pet supplies, just anything that would help the dear victims who lost everything in mere minutes. People opened up their homes and hearts in wonderfully selfless ways. Mommy helped coordinate part of the relief efforts at her work place. She took care of the collections for the pet food and supplies that were so desperately needed, and I helped her with ideas of things that dogs and cats might find comfort in during such a difficult time. It was a real joy to find ways to make a small difference for people and pets who had lost so much.
We have been supporting the local animal shelter closest to the devastation, which is run by a truly caring group of people, and have also been supporting and working with a wonderful non profit group called Saving Furry Friends...talk about the perfect name! No doubt as to what their mission is! Right after the tornadoes, they assisted in finding lost pets, horses and livestock and found temporary shelters for them. They helped reunite pets and their loved ones - people who lost everything found hope with those wonderful reunions. Saving Furry Friends and our local shelters have done so much to help the little animal victims in our community. They spend their days rescuing and caring for abandoned pets, giving them much needed medical attention, shelter, food, and love. They strive to find good, loving homes for pets to start a new life and family to thrive in, just like I found with my Mommy.
The entire community where we live rushed in to help and even though it has been almost 3 months since the tornadoes, they haven't slowed down yet. Neighbors helping neighbors, church groups have helped from far and wide, and people who lost their homes still jumped in to assist with the cleanup of the neighborhoods. Even complete strangers have shown up, ready to help out and make a difference. People have donated building supplies, dog houses, grocery stores came into the hardest hit areas with truckloads of water and food. Everyone found ways to help each other out, and they were the better for it. My own veterinary clinic that has taken care of me for years also helped a lot of the hurt and injured pets that became victims of the tornado too! I am so proud to live where I do.
It has been almost three months now since the tornadoes happened. The national news has moved on to other stories, but you can still see the path of devastation when you drive down the highway.  But things are getting better. Homes are getting rebuilt, roofs are being replaced, and by golly, the Glade Spring veterinary clinic already has a new building! It has been quite an experience. Remember that truck stop I mentioned that got hit directly? Well, it is back open now and business is booming!
Mommy and I still get a little nervous if a bad storm comes our way, but we know that no matter what, we will be okay. We found that the best way to deal with tragedy, whether you are the victim or not, is to reach out. No matter how bad things might seem, they will get better. They have to...and we can help each other make it happen. It doesn't matter if you are big or small, together we can all make a difference.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Joy of Being Lighthearted in Life

I think I might be a rock star...
Mommy says that my first record album cover is going to be the funny, highly stylized image to the right. Never mind the fact that I don't have a band, a record deal, or that the record itself (based on this image) would be oddly shaped in a long rectangle! Obviously, my Mommy really knows how to be lighthearted and silly, a very valuable lesson that she started teaching me from way early on. (Evidently, my Mommy also likes to play with photos of me on her computer, but that is beside the point.)
 Mommy made these funny 'Motivational' posters to illustrate the point of taking most any situation and finding the lighthearted side of it. I have had many a time that I was scared, sad, sick or just feeling down and Mommy will scoop me up and give me a hug, take me outside for a bit of playtime, or bring me my favorite treat to put a little romp in my step. I guess it has rubbed off, because I have done the same for her. She has had times when she was frustrated, feeling down, or having a difficult time with something, and I will bring her a toy to play with, do a little dance like only a Pixel can do, or just go up and cuddle with her.
And, as is overwhelmingly evident, I let her take photos of me no matter what silly situation I get myself into. Mommy says to find the positive in a situation, whenever possible, and it will help you find perspective. Sometimes that is easier said than done when the evil lawnmower is coming to get you, but I think I get the point!
Now, sometimes life can be tough, and there will always be those times when lighthearted is just not going to happen, and annoyance sometimes ensues, but we do our best. That is why having family and friends can be so helpful and wonderful. I have the most awesome dog/human pack ever and they get me through those times until I can be lighthearted again. See, even a Pixel Mixel can have a bad day...
Success at being lighthearted in life is an ongoing process, but I think it is a mindset I choose to live by. After all, I AM a blogging mini schnauzer...how much more lighthearted can you be?? I suppose my steps to lighthearted success would be to:
1. Find joy in the little things, like rawhide, a cuddly soft blanket, snow falling and paper towel rolls.
2. Practice 'Random Acts of Kindness' - Look for ways to be kind and do for others, no matter how you feel, and do it whenever you can.
3. Laugh at yourself. Take funny photos.
4. Play. Just do it!
5. Volunteer...at a dog shelter, at a people shelter, at a retirement home, at a hospital. Remember, lightheartedness can be catching...

Now, about my rock star status....would you buy the album if I did make one?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Joy of Making New Friends - Part I

Friendship is a gift that can sometimes come in unique packages. My 'Tails of Adventure' have taken me down several roads over the last three years, however, the path to my current adventure in friendship was very unexpected...and has been well worth the journey. I have always been the youngest member of my pack, so I always knew where I stood and had made friends with the whole family all at once.
Well, all that changed two days before Christmas...

On December 23, 2010, my Mommy and I went outside to feed the birds on the back deck. It was about 26 degrees and a snow storm was coming. We have always cared for the little wild birds. And as I always strive to be a good service dog to those in need, I go out with my Mommy every time to help her feed them. Well, my Mommy suddenly said, "Oh my goodness, there is something in our tree!" She thought it might be a bird of prey, and was ready to go chase it off. Well, when she went round the tree to get a better view, she saw a little kitten's face! It was about 20' up that huge maple tree caught in a nook and unable to get herself down.
Well, Mommy sprung into action to try and save that little soul. She called everyone she could think of: the police, the animal shelters, animal control, our neighbors. No one would come or was home to get that little kitten down from that tree! Mommy tried to lure it down with some kipper snacks, and I offered to help eat them so that they would look really yummy, but the kitten was NOT interested. Finally, our neighbor came home and Mommy kindly talked him into climbing a ladder to rescue the kitten down before it froze to death. We were not going to let that little soul freeze overnight! Much to everyone's surprise, after such an ordeal she was still incredibly grateful and gentle. We made her a huge bed for her in a big crate, with all she would need in it to be comfortable, and had her warm and cozy in no time. We all thought we would find her a good home, but the kitten thought our home was just right. By the next day, she had stolen everyone's heart (okay, all the human's in my family) and sure enough, she found her forever home. They named her Noel, our little Christmas tree gift from heaven.

Now understand, that because she was a stray, I was not allowed to meet her for several weeks. First, she was quarantined through Christmas, until we could get her to our family vet, and then she was treated for a respiratory infection. Once she was all well from that, Noel was brought up into the main part of the house and stayed in a crate on a small table while she recovered from being spayed.


Everyday I watched our new kitten Noel,  not really understanding it all at first, but still very curious. "Would she be friendly? Would she like me? Could we be friends? And would she let me have all her toys and eat her cat treats??" It was these important questions that ran through my mind as I watched her throughout the days. I noticed that she and I actually look a bit alike, with similar coloring on our fur, and I found that to be especially interesting. We both have white stomachs, with brown (chocolate) markings on our head and back...I guess we had different mothers together!

I tried talking to her and we did interact some - she would give me an occasional meow and I howled in response, asking that they "let her out early for good behavior." Mommy caught some of my asking on video, and she put it on my "Pixel Blue Eyes" Youtube channel that is linked in the upper right corner of my blog page...you can see it here too. I even wore a SWEATER for the film!
Noel's and my first interaction (with her at eye level) did finally occur, and you can see THAT video by clicking on my video links here on my blog, as well. The adventure of just getting to meet Noel took a while, and I will soon share more of how our friendship has grown over the last month. Things have definitely gotten more interesting since we found and saved our Noel...she has indeed become a new friend, and I have moved up the 'pecking order' in our little dog pack too! I never thought I would have a younger 'pup' that I needed to show the ropes to, but things change in life, don't they! As long as you can see the joy in new changes and challenges, life can be pretty exciting! Stay tuned for more stories and videos on the joy of making friends with Noel...
And please leave a comment and let me know what you think about making new friends, the photos & videos I have shared, or particular 'Tails' I have blogged about. I always love to hear from my friends!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Joy of Taking Action for Causes You Believe In

You know, my Mommy and I try to do all we can for those that we know are in need. As you have read in previous Pixel 'Tails,' one of my many skills is nursing. I love caring for my loved ones and being there for them at a moment's notice, helping them through difficult times, and just being there, as only a Pixel can be. Well, I have made friends along the way who also serve those that they care for. They work tirelessly day and night to help and support those in need, be it family, friend or ones they don't know...and they are even CERTIFIED to do it! I am talking about my fellow animals who are certified service and therapy animals...did you know they even have service miniature horses? Now THAT is cool!! These wonderful friends go to hospitals, nursing homes, or work directly with one person who needs assistance, doing things like helping them go to the store, or cross the street, or any number of other things to help their humans have the best life possible. I must say, I really admire my fellow animal friends for being such a good help to our wonderful human friends.
My mommy and I have a friend who runs the Canadian Registry of Therapy and Service Animals, CRTASA, and they have launched an important petition to help support a Centralized Registry for Therapy and Service Animals in Canada and the USA and to establish a Universal Photo Identification Card for Therapy & Service Animals. With so many different certified locations, and so many different ID cards for service animals, it is sometimes hard to keep track of everyone. I think that having one super cool centralized ID card would be great! It would help all the stores and businesses in all areas of the country better be able to identify those wonderful service animals, no matter where they might be from. My Mommy has already signed this very important petition, and I hope you will join me in supporting it too.

Here is a word from our friend Maxine, the President of CRTASA:
"Please sign this petition and share it with your associates to help us reach our goal of 5,000,000 signatures. We care deeply about this cause, and hope you will support our efforts to opening Society's Doors and Minds to Service Animals across North America."
Canadian Registry Therapy Animals and Service Animals Support CRTASA's Registry of Therapy & Service Animals:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/913/918/347/ 
From one dog who serves others to all service animals and therapy animals and animal lovers, I urge you to help make a difference for those around you. As I start training to get my official therapy dog certification, I could use your support in my efforts, by helping this national registry become a reality. You never know, I might someday be visiting a hospital near you!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Joy of Learning New Dog Tricks

Ever since I was a little, little pup, Mommy has had this thing about me learning new stuff. It makes sense, I suppose, because she was in school (learning stuff) when we first found each other, so why not get educated too. I mean, we DID get our bachelor's together, and besides...how else could I do this blog when Mommy's at work? I used to help her on projects and was even in a few of them, like the movie she did for an advertising campaign she worked on. I was very good in it, even though I was just a puppy...but I digress...
The way we/she teaches me is that she takes something I do on my own, and 'trains' me to do it on command. I am not sure if she really knows that I am training her, but whatever helps her feel good. We always have a blast working on them. She gets sooooo excited each time I do something and I get lots of praise and a little treat for it. The first photo here shows me doing my 'sneer' trick.

My newest trick (I think this will make #14) is called, "How does a car go?" My mom flips out every time I do it now...she asks me the question and, after giving the treat she is holding a good 'BOLT' stare, I make a couple of low pitch "grrrr's," just like an engine running! Mommy goes crazy with praise every time I do it, and I LOVE that!! It took me a while to train Mommy to do it right...haha, but I think we have mastered it now. I usually like to throw in another of my tricks, like a 'sneer' or a 'whisper', before I 'make the car go' but I only make her wait for a few seconds before I let loose!
She says her secret to teaching me is to make a word or action for something I do, like a sneeze, and say it or do it every time the pup does it. So every time I sneezed, she would say or do the command and give me a treat and praise. Pretty soon I would associate a good thing with me sneezing, then I would do it to 'get' the treat or praise. Some things took longer than others for me to learn, for example, the 'How does a car go?' took a long while, but patience is a wonderful thing they say. And she never made me do it or pressured me...it has always been just a fun game. That is the best way to learn I say!

I suppose I should list my skills in case anyone is curious, so here are all the tricks that Pixel Blue Eyes can do:
  1. Sit
  2. Sneer
  3. Smack (high five)
  4. Sneeze
  5. Whisper
  6. Ask (Paw on your knee)
  7. Twirl (Pirouettes galore!)
  8. How does a car go?
  9. Kiss (Dog lick on the face)
  10. Kiss (Mouth touch)
  11. Down (lay down)
  12. Catch
  13. Wait
  14. Praise the Lord (Arms go up in a full wave)
I can also take your pulse and do other nursing skills, since I am a nurse Pixel, but that is more second nature and a very important job, not just a parlor trick.
Now, does anyone have ideas for my next trick to learn? Only clean fun tricks that a 13 pound dog can do. Please leave a comment with your idea, I would love to hear it! Also, I promise to get some videos up soon...if Mommy can only find where she put them..
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