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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bow's Year in Review

Everyone else has a "year in review" film, so I decided to make one for Bow as well. In this video we see the highlights of Bow's day to day life from 2016.

I have also compiled my own "year in reviews" video, showing all the reviews that I have gotten on my books in 2016. If you want to do well, you must get many more reviews than you have books to your credit. 

My new year's resolution is to spend less time writing and publishing and more time creating publicity for those works that have already been written and published. If Bow is going to live on residual income after my passing, we need to start making sure that the works are well known.

What can you do to help? Besides buying books, review the ones you have bought and vote up the positive reviews that are already posted. It does not cost anything to log into Amazon and vote up a review, but it could make a world of difference to a reviewer's ranking and ultimately to the ranking of our books on Amazon.

Have a great new year, and Bow and I will see you in 2017!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bow Warms Up to his Christmas Blanket

Bow is a teenager now. He is fourteen going on fifteen. Even though he knows all about our Christmas traditions and looks forward to having the tree up each year with Christmas carols playing, and even though he understands all about gifts,  he just doesn't get that excited about the whole thing, anymore.

It is no secret that Bow gets a new blanket as a Christmas present each year. He has become a bit blasé about all this.

That's why the moment he knew what it was, he stopped working at opening the present.

Bow rested for a while from unwrapping then started at it again, and even when the blanket was completely unwrapped, he spent some time ignoring it, with his back to the Christmas present

Eventually, Bow warmed up to his new blanket. 

Soon he had wrapped himself in the blanket and was walking all around the pen dressed that way.

I put all these clips together for your amusement in this musical number,

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bow's Christmas Card and Other Surprises

Bow often receives mail addressed to him. Usually, it is a catalog for expensive food that Harry & David think that Bow might like to order. But Bow never orders anything. He just looks at the pictures in the catalog, stopping for a moment to contemplate each, but never expressing a preference for any.

Our rural mailbox totally fell apart this year. First there had been those bullet wounds it suffered years ago. Then a beautiful wild rose bush grew all around it. Then somebody -- not anyone I know -- must have sprayed the rose bush with weed killer, because it withered away quite unexpectedly at a time when all the other wild rose bushes were blooming and  thriving. Then, after that, ants started swarming inside the poor mailbox. I can't help but think this last event was related to the dying rose bush.
After that, the lid of the mailbox fell off and someone ran over it and flattened it. Unperturbed, I still managed to put the lid back on there in a precarious sort of way. But finally when we returned from St. Louis I decided to replace the old mailbox with a new one. Lawrence put it up on the wooden post for me. And the first piece of mail we received in the brand new mailbox was addressed to Bow Katz.

It was a card by the look of it. I gave the unopened envelope to Bow.

Inside was a card with the head of a white polar bear sticking out of a hole in the front of the card. Bow was very cautious in how he proceeded. First he turned to card over to see what was on the back.

Then he opened it. Big surprise. The bear began to dance to tune of "Jingle Bell Rock". Bow took this all in his stride, as if dancing bears inside cards were an every day event for him. He was happy with the card and not at all spooked by it.

Another nice surprise was a new review of When Sword Met Bow.

A new review
It is  helpful to have a review like this from someone who has actually read the book with children who are at the age of the intended audience. I have had some unfair reviews in the past from animal rights activists who had not even read the book, but assumed that Bow was still a baby, and I would not be able to cope with him past that point. (Bow will be fifteen in February.) The book itself is not so much about cross-fostering as it is  a the story of a new baby in the family and how an older child reacts. So if you are looking for a Christmas present for a young child with a new baby sibling, this book would be a good choice.

But the nice surprises did not end there. We received a package from an old friend who used to spend Thanksgivings with us. She could not make it to this year's Thanksgiving celebration, but she sent us a box full of baklava and a card about the memories.

This is such a nice time of year to be home with your family, to hear from old friends and to share memories of years gone by.

A picture of Sword and Bow with our friend who sent the baklava. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

When the Snow Came

We have had such a very mild fall that spring flowers were still blooming early in December.

We began to take it for granted that we would have spring weather all year. But when the snow finally came, it just so happened that my daughter and I were on a weekend visit to friends.

Lawrence was sitting with Bow, and we were en route to St. Louis, to visit my friend Michelle and her family. Remember that video of Bow's choice of mugs? It was Michelle's suggestion.

My friend Michelle with one of the mugs she thought Bow might like
En route to St. Louis, I experienced some weather related delays and problems that I won't bother to detail here, as it would be tedious. But what I do want to share is that everyone I met was kind and helpful. Michelle and her family went out of their way to help out in an important juncture, but there were also a couple of good Samaritans I met along the way, people I did not know. One of them was a Christian, and he said "I'm a Christian, so that is why I am helping you." On the way back, it was a Muslim and his family who helped me. And he said "We are Muslim, so we will help you." Each time, I wanted to just tell them that they were good people, and that's why they helped. Their religion had nothing to do with it. But since I was grateful and wanted to be polite, I didn't say that. I just said "Thank you so much!"

An ornament we gave to Michelle and her family

We shared good fellowship with Michelle and her family. We went to  a skating rink and to the mall and put up ornaments on her tree and exchanged gifts. 

The beautiful fox pillow Michelle gave me
It goes so well with In Case There's a Fox

When I got back, Bow was happy to see me, and we groomed for a long time. Then Bow asked to go outside. It was so cold out! I was surprised that he would ask that. But he just wanted to go out, look around at the altered landscape and then taste the snow. After about a minute, he leapt off the bench to the safety and warmth of the inner pen. 

This morning, after letting the dogs out and having breakfast with Bow, I noticed the beautiful sunrise behind the trees in the woods. I went out to get a better look. 

Leo came running the moment he saw me go out there.

But Brownie took much longer to emerge. He is slow and steady.

It was good to get away for a short while and meet with friends. But it is also good to be home again. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brownie's Hearing

Bow and Brownie don't interact much. But the other day, when Bow was sitting outside, I noticed that Brownie was curled up right next to the corner of the outer pen where Bow was sitting. It was as if he were keeping Bow company.

Bow takes it easy on the rim of the bench

Every night, when I coax Brownie to come in from the cold and spend the night in my bedroom, I know that Bow, in the inner pen, all snuggled up in his blankets and safe in the warm darkness of his night time safe place, is listening to me and Brownie interact. Brownie is older now, and he is very slow to come when I call him. Some of that is because his lumbering gait has changed a little over time, but another reason is that he does not seem to respond to my verbal coaxing. It is only when I reach out and touch him and beckon with my hand that he finally decides that it is okay to come in through the open sliding glass door. Then I hear Bow make an approving, low sounding "ah-ah-ah" sound from inside the inner pen, which means he feels all is well with me and Brownie. "Good night, Bow," I call out to him in Hebrew, and then I close the glass door. The house is built in such a way that you can actually see into my room from the inner pen, unless I have the curtain drawn.

Brownie takes it easy in a blanket of leaves

Brownie is sweet and very cooperative, but I have always felt, ever since he adopted us, that his language comprehension was less developed than that of our other dogs and overall less advanced than that of any other dogs I have known throughout my life. 

I speculated that maybe it was because by the time he found us outside of my daughter's gymnastics class and asked that we take him home with us he was already about  two years old. I thought maybe it was because we speak Hebrew at home, but he was probably exposed only to English during his puppyhood. But today, I have a different theory. Because today I realized that Brownie is deaf.

View of the ledge in front of my bedroom door from the pen

When I went out to give Brownie his breakfast, Leo was standing on the ledge that leads to my room, eagerly awaiting the feeding, even though Brownie never lets him eat. (We have to feed Leo separately inside.) But Brownie knew this was his breakfast time, and he stood and looked eagerly toward the center of house, with his back to me. He looked as if he thought I was still in the inner pen. I came and stood right behind him and told him that breakfast was ready and asked him to come. But Brownie just kept looking longingly at the house, and it was only when I touched him lightly on the flank that he turned around, startled, then happy to see me. He followed me right to the ledge of my room, where I put his bowl down, and he eagerly ate. 

Somebody recently talked to me about how the language ability of apes is far better than that of dogs, and I told her that actually I have known some dogs who had excellent language comprehension, though, of course, they had no means of production. They understood things I said in Hebrew to them that no one else in the room understood, because everyone else spoke only English. Or they attended to things as a result of a conversation that was not directed to them, but they learned new information by eavesdropping. However, I had to admit that not all dogs are equally good at understanding spoken human language. I was thinking of Brownie. He has always been unusually dense when it came to interpreting speech directed at him. 

Brownie was not always this deaf. When he was younger, he did hear noises, and he did know when someone was coming. That's why I did not understand why it was so hard for him to interpret what I said. But I suspect that he may always have been somewhat deaf, and this may have been his secret challenge even when he was young. 

Dogs can understand spoken language -- but not if they're deaf. I think Bow has always been more tolerant of Brownie than of the other dogs, because maybe he knew what I didn't: that Brownie could not make out what we said to him.