Thursday, October 8, 2020

Things My Dog Has Eaten: a guest post by Susan McCormick

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 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The almost-seven months of coronavirus quarantining has taught us a lot of lessons. If you can't travel in real life, you can always get there in a book. (Oh, to walk the foggy streets of San Francisco!) As Dorothy famously said, there's no place like home, and the people and pets living there. Thrillers can be fun, but when real life gets a little too thrilling, we want to spend time inside a cozy mystery: sweet, funny characters, real community, and an intriguing puzzle to solve.

And finally, as all the folks who owned dogs before March, and all the many who have adopted one since then know, there's nothing to get you thorough the hard times like a pooch. Here's Susan McCormick to tell you about her beloved Albert - and to whet your whistle for her just-released "atmospheric, entertaining whodunnit" THE FOG LADIES: FAMILY MATTERS.

 

Things My Dog Has Eaten

by Susan McCormick

 

A Newfoundland dog is a joy in oh, so many ways. Newfoundlands are calm, patient, and phlegmatic. A Newf will happily sit around all day doing nothing, which is perfect for COVID quarantines. These dogs are gigantic, and you don’t need to lean down to pet them. You will never trip over them, and their bark is a deep, dignified woof and not a tiny, high-pitched yip. They are also slobbery and furry, and any hope of a clean house is abandoned when you bring home a Newfoundland. One thing you may not know, however, and was likely a characteristic of our specific Newfoundland rather than all Newfoundlands, is the number and variety of household objects chewed up and eaten.

 

 

All puppies go through a chewing phase, and we were not fazed by this. However, Albert the Newfoundland never grew out of chewing, and through all of his years chewed everything in sight, attached or unattached to something or someone. We witnessed the gobbling of some of these belongings, and some we discovered in Albert’s poo. Luckily, a Newfoundland has an enormous esophagus and intestinal tract, and Albert never had a blockage, which was sometimes a worry, seeing the size of the swallowed item.

 

 

 

 

Here is just a partial list.

-        Any paper product, including piano and guitar sheet music, homework, files tucked away in a briefcase brought home from work, mail, toilet paper, paperback books

-        Legos, any and all small plastic toys, bouncy balls, stuffies

-        Pinecones

-        The carpet on the stairs

-        The stairs

-        Socks (on or off our feet)

-        An entire loaf of pumpkin bread

-        A ten pound bag of flour and a five pound bag of oat bran when he accidentally locked himself in the pantry

-        An ink cartridge

-        A Yankee’s baseball carried home by our sons from a trip to NYC (did you know baseballs were made of cork?)

-        Two pizzas at the doggy beauty parlor (he slipped the leash, climbed the stairs into the break room and devoured their lunch off the table)

-        One pound of lard

-        Nonslip bathmat from inside the bathtub

-   
    My elderly mother’s red cashmere sweater and only pair of shoes that fit (luckily, my mother had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember he’d eaten her favorite shoes and only knew that she loved Albert)

-        75 pieces from a Mastermind game

-        Strainer full of pasta

-        Costco-sized bag of fancy chocolate Easter eggs covered in colorful pastel tinfoil (we sweated this one because chocolate is deadly for dogs, but he is huge so the lethal dose is huge, and he must have swallowed them whole because the eggs came out the other end undigested and still covered in their foil)

-        A fully decorated gingerbread house

-        Baby Jesus from the nativity set

 

COVID was good for Albert. He was approaching nine years old, very old for a Newfoundland, and he was sick. In his last months he had his entire family around him every single day, sheer bliss for a dog.

 

Many dogs inhabit the elegant apartment building in my cozy murder mystery series, The Fog Ladies, and Albert was my muse when writing. In Book One, a tiny dog saves the day. Albert could not believe a tiny, yippy dog got this role. In Book Two, there are a few lines about a Newfoundland. Albert was pleased. But in Book Three, expected out in fall 2021, a Newfoundland is front and center.

 

 

How has your dog fared during COVID?

What is the strangest thing your dog has eaten?

 

 

THE FOG LADIES: FAMILY MATTERS    Till death do us part, with kitchen shears. What drives a family man to kill his wife? This question haunts Sarah James, a medical resident who meets the unhappy family at a resort near Big Sur. She witnesses how ugly a marriage can be. But murder?

Sarah and the spunky Fog Ladies—elderly neighbors from her San Francisco apartment building—set out to discover the truth. Their probing finds the threat is perilously close to home, endangering another troubled family struggling to survive.

 

Susan McCormick is a writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Susan served as a doctor in the U.S. Army for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the Fog Ladies series, she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons, and, until recently, her giant Newfoundland dog, Albert.

You can find out more about Susan and the Fog Ladies at her website. You can friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter as @smccormickbooks and enjoy many more dog pics on her Instagram feed, @susanmccormickbooks.

You can purchase both books in the Fog Ladies series at

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Goodreads

Book Bub

53 comments:

  1. “The Fog Ladies” sounds absolutely delightful, Susan, and I’m looking forward to reading their adventures.

    As for the dog . . . wow --- that’s an amazing list of stuff.

    We don’t have dogs any longer, but we had golden retrievers for many years. They were quite well-behaved in the house, although they loved stealing the sandwiches off the kitchen table faster than I could get them made. But their favorite trick was climbing the back fence and wandering around the neighborhood. Of course, since John was on the night shift, it fell to me to round them up . . . every single night. I guess it was simply too much fun climbing out and scampering around the neighborhood . . . .

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    1. Golden retrievers are beautiful, but I suspect the hair maintenance may be just like a Newf--never ending.
      I am thankful that Albert was a homebody and never wandered the streets because an enormous, lumbering beast might be mistaken for a bear.

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  2. OMG, Susan. That's quite a list! I'm not a dog person, but we have a six-month old kitten in the house who is a paper shredder. He also digs in the house plants, so the big kitchen-sitting room where he lives is now free of plants. It kind of looks like a ticker-tape parade went through, there are so many scraps of brown paper on the floor.

    Best of luck with the new book!

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    1. Thank you! What fun to have a kitten! There is an old cat in the books as well, much more placid than your kitten.

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  3. Susan, there are few things as hard as losing a beloved dog. Our Toby died in the spring, a month after we went into lockdown, 14 years and 5 days old. I still weep for him daily, and I will miss him forever. Both Lucy Roberta and Lori Rader-Day lost dogs in the last year too. It is obvious that the three of us were separated at birth, evidenced by our brain fog that allowed us each to adopt new puppies in the summer. Mine is Sergeant Pepper -- has a sister named Penny Lane -- a coal black miniature poodle, not a new Toby but a new little dog person to brighten these dark days. Hes is now 4 1/2 months old, potty trained, and mostly just chews on his toys when he isn't barking at his reflection in a low mirror or watching The Yorkshire Vet on Britbox. However, we don't leave any paper within reach. Our trainer told us that paper had an irresistible chew texture for most dogs. Go figure. Harlen Eskridge used to chew paper in third grade but that was for spit balls. Not sure if he ever outgrew it either.

    Kudos on the new book.

    PS Our little dogs, average wt 13 pounds DO NOT YAP! Well, not all that much anyway.

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    1. Good to know. No yapping. Not much anyway. :)
      I'm sorry about your dog. It is so hard.

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    2. Ann, all of our dogs have discovered the "dog in the mirror" at about that age. So funny!

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  4. Congratulations on your new book Susan. I like cozies and your cover is beautiful.
    Through the years, we've had small and big dogs but I've always preferred big dogs. Now, I don't have one but can understand the place it takes in our lives and in our hearts.

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    1. We had St. Bernards as a kid, then an English Mastiff as an adult, and Albert was our second Newfoundland. I have yet to discover the joys of a small or medium dog, or a dog without drool for that matter. Some day.

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    2. Susan, our nephew has a mastiff called Leavon (after The Weight in Music from Big Pink. Nephew is a singer and guitarist.) Leavon is the most gorgeous dog. But, oh, the drool!

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    3. Our mastiff was a "fluffy" which means long hair, a genetic mistake. But so cute, like a 160 pound puppy!

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  5. Koda, our retired-racer, has loved quarantine. His people are home ALL DAY LONG! This means when he wants attention he gets it and when he wants to lounge in another room, he knows The People are right around the corner.

    While Koda has a pretty voracious appetite, he has not yet devoured inedible objects (he's not much of a chewer, aside from the corner of the TV stand when he first arrived in March 2019). But people are always amazed at the food items he'll eat - he loves vegetables. The oddest thing I've seen him eat are a marshmallow and a piece of parsley.

    PS: I love the book cover!

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    1. The ONLY thing Albert did not eat was celery. Does Koda eat celery?

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    2. Yep. Lettuce, spinach...the only thing I've seen him hesitate about is a raw mushroom.

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    3. Interesting. Albert once ate five avocados, leaving five avocado pits neatly lined up on the non-kitchen side of the high gate we erected to keep him out of the kitchen.

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  6. Susan, hello and welcome to JRW. When I finish this post I'm heading out to search for your books! The list of edibles for your Albert was too funny!

    I have had German Shepherds since the mid 70's one after the other. I'm sure my husband fell in love with the dog first. Ari was an enormous cross breed who weighed about 110, not a Newfoundland, but formidable and his bark was terrific. I trained him at CT K-9 and eventually he could do the off leash courses and responded to to hand signals (at least when he wasn't chasing a squirrel.) I could put out the hors d'oeuvres and go up and shower, no problem. But he did eat a couple of night gowns and could not resist the garbage if there was something delectable there. He ate an entire cook-in bag from a turkey. I had to give him Ipecac until he got rid of it because the vet was concerned that it would not pass through his system.

    All of the dogs have been respectful of our food. Not one of them stole food in the kitchen or on other tables around the house. Not one. But Chewbacca raided the bathroom garbage and to my horror, left a trail of tampons in his poop one time at the training facility. I bought a bathroom garbage can with a cover. He did flunk out of K-9, alas, we think he was part coyote.

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    1. That is hilarious.
      I cannot imagine your dogs could eat all those things and never touch people food. Tremendous training!

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  7. Susan, I love your description of Albert, and the list of edibles! When I was in high school I babysat for a family with a Newfie, The first time I was there, he came to the kitchen storm door and stood on his hind legs against the door to tell the family he was ready to come in - he looked like a monster! But he was the sweetest dog, of course.

    Other dogs I've loved and known ate a string of Christmas tree lights off the tree, a whole bag of Hershey kisses (lots of silver foil in his poop), another dog ate 16 pairs of socks out of the drawer (in one sitting) and pooped out every single pair, still rolled up! Currently, we have a dog who is interested in eating anything she can get off of the sofa end tables - paper, tissues (used or unused) that she shreds with great joy, pens, pencils, etc. If you find them quickly enough, though, you can at least trade her some dog treats for the stolen items!

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    1. A string of Christmas tree lights and 16 pairs of socks may be the winners in the dog eating contest.

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  8. Congratulations on your new release!

    The late, great, sixty pound standard poodle, Toby, ate a dinner plate sized hole in the wall and a full roll of ace wrap, which "appeared", undigested, during his morning walk. Much loved, so naughty.

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    1. We love them no matter what, don't we. We had to get new carpet for our stairs, you had to get a new wall. But the dogs got extra love and attention.

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  9. Congrats on your new book! COVID is the perfect time to read cozies and I love the cover.

    I just don't want to imagine the results of a Newfie eating a pound of lard! LOL

    I have a Standard Poodle, Ellery Queen, who chews on his toys and nothing else. My friend Luci Zahray (some here know her as "the poison lady") had a Harrier, the Evil Morita, that ate rising bread dough and a bag of chocolate. She didn't eat enough chocolate to hurt her but, as Luci explains it, she and her husband stayed up all night walking a gassy, hyperactive (from the caffeine in the chocolate) dog around and around the block.

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    1. Thank you!
      The Poison Lady gave me an idea for Book 3. She is a wonderful resource! Hope her dogs don't find her medicine chest of arsenic.

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    2. Susan, the poisons are safely locked in glass-front cabinets.

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  10. Julia, I am so glad I got up early enough to comment here.

    Susan, welcome to Jungle Reds and congratulations on your new book! Is your novel a cozy mystery? I would love to read your novel. I am going to see if I can borrow an ebook from my library. If they do not have it, I can order a copy online from my local independent bookstore.

    Though I do not have a dog, I have seen how hard the shelter in place is for dogs, especially if they cannot go out! A relative has an adorable dog (ridgeback ?) and the dog loves the outdoors. He is happiest when he is outdoors. If he is inside, he growls! I was reminded of a famous actor who adopted a dog that had been returned to the shelter twice! Luckily, the actor lives in a house with a BIG backyard, which is easier for dogs.

    Diana

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    1. Thank you! The Fog Ladies series is indeed a cozy series. Here is a link to Indiebound, where you can order from your local bookstore.
      https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781509233076

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  11. Congratulations on the upcoming book, Susan. You have my deepest sympathy on the loss of Albert, but he sounds like a grand dog who lived a long and happy life.

    My covid lockdown partners are four border collies and three cats. Back when I spent my weeks at the office and my weekends in rehearsal, the critters all were alone together in the house for many hours a day. When I joined them last spring, I discovered that they had developed routines, alliances, and mind games to play on each other that I knew nothing about. It has been interesting to find my own place in the pack.

    When she was a puppy, I used to call Zoe--the oldest girl the pack now--Queen of the Inappropriate Chew Toys. She went for the usual bones and stuffies, but also books--sacrilege in my house! Then there was the winter morning when my toes got cold and I found three slippers, each from a different pair, all for the same foot. Luckily for me and my slipper budget, her tastes have matured since then.

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    1. You have a little zoo going in your house!
      Someone told us the glue in books was heaven-scented for dogs.

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    2. Oh, that's probably true about the glue. We are not, however, a zoo here. No ferrets, no reptiles, no rodents, and no birds. Should I ever get a peacock (or a giraffe! Giraffes are cool.) then maybe it will be a zoo.

      One of my other dogs, Tam, is the exact opposite of your Albert. Tam is not only not treat motivated, he's pretty sure any strange food is offered only to poison him. I once offered him the fatty last bite of a sirloin. He sniffed it skeptically and walked away. However Chess, his bratty little brother, was happy to step in and take the hit for Team Tam.

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    3. I've never met a dog like Tam. Must have been very hard to train him. Albert would do anything for a kibble.

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  12. Yes, all of my dogs have at one time or another eaten things they probably shouldn't have. But Rocky was the champ. He'd eat his chew toys and then throw up, on the bed, in the middle of the night! Usually looked like he swallowed stuff whole. Rocky also chewed a hole in a brand new purse that was hanging on a chair. But I was to blame since I had had something in there that I shouldn't have.

    Many years ago my Buddy swallowed my wedding ring. At least we figured he must have been the culprit when it disappeared. The vet said we'd see it again in a day or 2, but several days went by and we still didn't see it. We borrowed a metal detector but that was not much help. Finally, after more than a week of following him around we got it back!

    Then there was the Thanksgiving dinner at my son's house. My mother had brought 2 pies (she loved her pies and made the best ones) We decided since we were too full for dessert that we would take a ride. We came back to no pies at all! His yellow labs, Bonnie and Clyde had eaten every crumb. They were in Tupperware containers on the counter but somehow they got the pies out. I suggested to my mother that from now on whenever she took a pie somewhere she should cut herself a small piece first, because you never know.

    Gotta love the dogs!

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    1. A wedding ring!! Wow.
      I'm always amazed at how easy it is for dogs to open Tupperware since I have so much trouble myself. Two delicious pies. You must have been so disappointed.

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  13. Aw, what a fabulous dog your Albert was. Such a lovable boy! Your series sounds delightful, Susan, and I can't wait to check it out! My standard poodle, Lucy, once ate an entire couch down to the wooden frame. It was quite the surprise when we got home from work!

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    1. A couch. Unbelievable! We love them anyway, clearly.

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  15. Susan, it would be hard to top that list of digested items! Impressive.

    My daughter has two Bernese Mountain dogs, not as big as Newfies, but equally lovable. The older dog is nine and a half, also very old for a Berner. The other dog is a five-month old puppy, in preparation, so to speak. Barli is a lot more trustworthy than she used to be, as long as you don't tempt her too much with actual food within her reach. I was not happy with her one Christmas when she devoured all the homemade goodies I took to their house, plus an entire box (yep, including the box) of imported French truffles.

    A friend's beagle, though, was well known for her eating disorder. This 25-pound dog singlehandedly ate a six-pound pork roast out of the refrigerator. Lucy had figured out how to open the fridge, and they had to PADLOCK it to keep her out. Otherwise nothing was safe from her.

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    1. A Houdini dog! It is never good to have a dog so smart!
      I love Bernese Mountain dogs. The biggest dog that doesn't drool... But what's a little dog slobber.

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  16. There are no dogs in my life except as an aunt to my sister's dogs and they never have small dogs. Since they live in another home I have no idea what they have eaten off the table, closet, counter or trash. We did have a cat that proudly brought home large steak one day. Seems she found it in a neighbor's yard, defrosting or at least that's our story. We had just moved and there was no way any of us (we?), children, were going door to door to see who she had stolen from.

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    1. This is one of the funniest stories I've heard. I can picture the cat dragging the steak from the outdoor table and across the yard.

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  17. A San Francisco set series? As someone who grew up in the north Bay Area, count me in.

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    1. Book 1 is set in an elegant apartment building in Pacific Heights where old ladies start to die. Old age can be deadly. :)

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  18. Susan, I've been laughing out loud at everyone's stories this morning, and Albert was indeed a grand dog. I know how much you must miss him. We have two German shepherds, and had two before these. They have all been remarkable well-mannered about chewing things, and have never stolen food, although they certainly could if they were so inclined. Except--our younger dog, Jasmine, was a rescue. We took her when she was about six months old, so she didn't have the puppy training that our other dogs had had. Not long after she came to us, our daughter and son-in-law moved in with us for a couple of months as they were waiting for a house renovation to finish. Their two dogs are notorious food thieves, especially the pit mix, Monster. Monster got into the tool boxes behind my husband's desk and ate a whole pot of jeweler's rouge, and he shared just bit with Jasmine. Now that doesn't sound too bad, except that jeweler's rouge is highly toxic to dogs, and it contains animal fat, which is what made it so appealing. It was touch and go for Monster, but he did recover, and Jazz has never eaten anything inappropriate again. Whew.

    Your books sound delightful, and I'm going to check them out right now! Thanks so much for the chuckles this morning!

    Oh, I have to add, we had a neighbor whose Weimaraner ate the sofa and chairs, their windowsills, and all the red glass balls off their Christmas tree. He was just fine.

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  19. These stories are wonderful!
    That Weimaraner must have had a gut like no other.

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  20. Susan, I met a newfie once--and have loved them ever since. We once had a young beagle mix who, for whatever reason, seemed partial to eating the cat's toys--but never her own.

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  21. Keeping his own toys pristine, maybe?

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  22. Oh Susan, Newfoundland dogs have a special place in my heart. So sorry your Albert has passed away. The picture of him with your family are precious. We've never been blessed to have a Newfie (get to our dogs in a minute), but my daughter and her family had one, if only for a couple of years. Hank was so smart and gentle and loving. I will forever be grateful to him in his part of rescuing my granddaughter Izzy from harm. Izzy was around three and was outdoors with her mother/my daughter, who was working in her garden. Well, you know how fast a kid can slip away, and Izzy did just that. They live in the country, with a pond very near their house and gardens. My daughter was, of course, frantic when she couldn't find Izzy right away. She told Hank to go find Izzy. That is just what this amazing dog did. While Ashley looked, getting closer to the pond all the while, Hank had found Izzy and was standing beside her, close to the pond, with her dress in his mouth, which was holding her in place. When my daughter came to them, Hank released his hold and got his "good dog" accolades many times over. He did another similar action like this another time. He was just so smart. I won't get into how Hank died except to say it was a careless motorcyclist. I still can cry over that, which was eight years ago. I know we're talking about what dogs eat and get into, but I had to share this about our Hank, since you, Susan, know how wonderful the Newfoundlands are.

    My husband and I have been lucky in that we haven't had a chewer or mischief-maker. From our Cocker-Spaniel Barry to our mutt Fella to our Australian Cattle-dog Abbie to our Brittany Coco, they just weren't chewers. They were family members that we dearly love and dearly miss. We're looking into getting another dog soon, probably another Brittany, as we got our dear Coco through a rescue organization, and we'd like to adopt another senior dog that way.

    Congratulations on your new book, Susan. The Fog Ladies is going on my TBR list.

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  23. Hank was a credit to his water rescuing, children loving breed.
    I hope you enjoy the book! Writing Book 3 is a joy, because much of it is Newfoundland (and dog in general) centered.

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  24. Oh my darling Albert. Thank you for sharing your story. He was a fantastic muse and magical creature who is burned on my brain and heart for life. I admit I have tears rolling down my cheeks hearing of his departure from us but I’m so happy you shared him with me. He sure did like to steal and chew things!

    My Frenchie ate the squeaker from a stuffed toy and it got lodged in his belly. 3 days of stress and $3k later - i have a special souvenir.

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  25. Sharon,
    The special souvenir is our dogs themselves. If they only knew how much joy they bring.

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  26. I love this Vlog and I’m so sorry for the loss of Albert. He surely left a very big hole in your families fabric. I particularly loved him slipping his leash running upstairs and stealing the two pizzas! Our new puppy is small enough that her list is smaller, but growing. We won’t miss the puppy chewing stage! Thank you for visiting And sorry that we had blog troubles this week

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