Category Archives: papillons

Long Two Days, But Back with More Tomorrow

 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It has been a long couple of day in which about 12 hours of each were spent on the road. As you know from my posts last week, we lost Judy’s emotional support and therapy dog Minnie Scule from Kidney failure at the age of 8 1/2 last Monday. Judy was distraught, depressed, and crushed by the loss of Minnie, who since she was an 8-9 week old puppy was Judy’s constant shadow and companion. She was an extremely complicated, funny, at times demanding and obnoxious pup, but she was sweet, and the bond between Judy and Minnie was amazing. As such our next two Papillons, Izzy and Pierre pretty much bonded with me and formed their own security, observation, and wrestling team.

A very special friend of ours saw what was going on with Judy and bought her a little Papillon puppy from her breeder. I had to get special permission to take Judy to New Hampshire and back, but this morning we were rewarded with little Maddy Lyn. She immediately bonded with Judy and rode on Judy’s shoulder the whole trip home. She is so smart, sweet, and adorable it is amazing. She is definitely Mommy’s girl, and in some things she acts a lot like Minnie. In others not, but I wonder if Minnie travelled up with us in spirit to giver Maddy some pointers.

As you can see from these pictures there already is a bond between them. By the way, she was great on the trip and is making herself at home here. As for Izzy and Pierre, who have transitioned from being the younger dogs, this is their first time having a puppy. Maddy follows  them around and it is so funny.

I am grateful for the support I have from my command, their willingness to give me permission to travel out of the area, and for the kindness of so many people.

So until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Remembering Minnie Scule; and Thank You for Your Kindness

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I have been blown away by all the kind and heartfelt notes I have received from readers, as well as friends by phone, email, Facebook, and Twitter following the loss of our wonderful furry baby Minnie Scule. My commanding officer gave me the day off, to be with Judy and try to recover. It’s been much harder for Judy because Minnie was her love, and Minnie lived for Judy. It has been tough for me too, because I loved her and and all of her idiosyncrasies. I really miss her way of flirting with me for attention, or demanding me to do something. But she is gone too young. I still since her presence, and I hope like some of our others, Molly and Frieda, that she comes back and visits us.

But anyway, I thank everyone for their kindness, and genuine care and compassion. We have been contact by friends from across the Unite States, Europe, and I think Australia and New Zealand too. I have lost count. I have tried to personally thank everyone, but I know I probably missed some, chalk it up to being overwhelmed.

Minnie, like all of our babies added more to our lives than we could add to hers. Eventually, as the tears fade, we will laugh at all she did, but right now it is a time to mourn. We loved her, she loved us and brought us so much love and joy. Izzy is trying to figure out her place in the new order, as she and Minnie really cared for each other. They were great sisters. I think that Izzy is grieving as well. Pierre not as much as I think Minnie intimidated him just a bit. So we are all adjusting to life without Minnie.

The late Mary Tyler Moore said: “I feel about my dogs now, and all the dogs I had prior to this, the way I feel about children—they are that important to me. When I have lost a dog I have gone into a mourning period that lasted for months.”

We know that feeling and she said it so well. However, we still have Izzy and Pierre, both very sweet, but and unique in their own ways that we love them for, but there will never be another Minnie.

So until tomorrow, thank you all,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

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No Joy in Mudville: Our Mighty Minnie is Gone

 


Minnie and Me on a Mission from God

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

John Grogan wrote:

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.“

I find it is amazing how true that is. We have been blessed by some of the most amazing dogs who have each occupied our lives in fascinating ways. They have been lovers, consolers, jokers, and defenders. All had or with our two remaining Papillons, Izzy Bella, and Pierre, have carved out distinct places in our canine-human pack. I live to come home and see them jumping up and down, barking and waging because I am home. In fact they start looking for me even before I get home because they know the routine.

We have been owned by six dogs in our marriage, each with a distinct personality and place in our pack, beginning with our German Wire Haired Dachshund and Dowager Queen Frieda. Frieda could be sweet, but she was cunning and had an attitude. We loved her but it was kind of like Stockholm Syndrome because while Frieda loved us, she was her own dog, and we were the bumbling help. If you have ever had a difficult and headstrong Dachshund, imagine that pup being a 28 pound German standard size one, bred as a hunting dog, with not an ounce of fat on her, big boned, lots of muscles, teeth like that of an Alsatian, and jaws that could lock down. She was incredibly smart and devious, and we referred to her as the Queen. That being said she was incredibly gentle to children and old ladies. Judy and Frieda had an almost psychic bond, it was like Frieda was always inside Judy’s head. We lost her in early 2001 at the age of 16 1/2 years, and three days. She shared Judy’s birthday. When Frieda died I was deployed to Okinawa, mainland Japan, and Korea. Judy did her best to keep her alive for my return but it didn’t work out. When she died, Judy recalled that it was like her mind was alone. However, Frieda never really left our lives, we both had paranormal encounters with her, and sometimes I catch out of the corner of my eye a Frieda sized shadow figure. Go figure.

We got our second pup, also a dachshund but a smooth hair red dachshund designed to American, not German specifications. We named her Greta, and she was sweet, but a thief and chow hound. She was mommy’s girl, completely codependent and attached to Judy. She was sweet, and when she saw little girls when we walked her she would roll over to get her belly rubbed. She was smart, sweet, but somewhat dour in personality, but she could be funny without meaning to be. When we got her Frieda retired from watch dog and patrol duties and handed them off the Greta. Frieda was like someone who retired from the military at 20 years and lived to be 120, collecting retirement and demanding her due. We lost Greta on June 22nd 2003 to cancer, 17 years to the day before we lost Minnie.

Six months after we lost Frieda, we got Molly. Molly was a rescue found of North Carolina Highway 24 in Carteret County. When found she was covered in tar as the highway was being widened and repaved. Judy met the lady and Molly at our vets office and since Judy thought Molly was a dachshund told the lady that we had a lot of experience with dachshunds and to call us if she needed advice. We it turned out that Molly, who was estimated by the vet to be about six months old was too much for this lady’s old dog which suffered from hip problems. She asked if we would consider taking her and I said why not. However, Molly wasn’t fully dachshund, she was a dachshund-papillon mix. She had the long dachshund body, slightly longer legs, the beautiful long fur coat of a long rich red hair.her body was that of a dachshund but her legs, ears and tail didn’t look at all like a dachshund. Being a mix she was fascinating, one day she could be the cheerful Papillon, and the next the “what the hell do you want Dachshund.” But she was smart, somewhat devious and mischievous, but always good for a long snuggle and kiss fest. She was a daddy’s girl, but Judy’s protector during a period where I was deployed or away from home more often than not. In late 2010 I was assigned to the Naval Hospital at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina and I rented an apartment under a beach house on Emerald Isle. While there Judy and Molly would occasionally visit, but in early 2012 Judy had to have an Achilles’ tendon resection surgery. Since our home in Virginia is nothing but stairs, we decided that she should do her first month of recuperating with me, because my apartment was ground level and had nary a step to be found. Molly came down and during that month, decided that regardless of what mommy was doing that she was going to stay. On Emerald Isle she could chase deer, squirrels, foxes, and go for walks on the beach. She also had a daddy who would take her for rides which usually ended up with her being rewarded with a Molly Burger from either Hardee’s of McDonald’s. However, not long before I was reassigned back to the Hampton Roads area in late 2013, Molly went blind from a  genetic disorder. One day she was snapping Dragonflies out of the air, and the next she was running into things. But, she adapted to blindness marvelously. We bought her a visor to protect her eyes and she used it like a blind man’s cane, tapping her way through the house without missing a beat. However in early 2014 she developed Kidney Disease and died in May 2015, just over the age of 14. It was a good thing that Molly came to live with me, because in those years I was so wracked with PTSD that had she not been waiting for me that I could have easily driven my car into a tree and ended my life. Molly saved my life more than once.

However, because we loved the Papillon side of her personality, and because if she stayed with me Judy would be alone, I decided to look for  Papillon puppy, and I found Minnie. When the breeder sent me the picture of a very tiny yet confident and cocky puppy, I knew that she was the one. Judy named her Minnie Scule because fro what she read she didn’t expect Minnie to get over 7-8 pounds. When we got Minnie she was just 2.4 pounds with tiny little legs and a somewhat oval body. Judy nicknamed her the piglet. However, Minnie took to sitting on Judy’s shoulders like a parrot would do with a Pirate. But Minnie kept growing and at one point she was all ears, legs, and tail, a gangly puppy. But then she started to fill out and for most of her life weighed between 13-15 pounds. She had a huge personality. She talked like Scooby Doo, and was demanding like a Frieda, but much sweeter about it and without Frieda’s armament. I encouraged her worst habits. She was a thief, could be defiant, and was not always obedient unless food was involved. But above all she was mommy’s girl, not that she didn’t like spending time with daddy who would walk her around the lake in our neighborhood and let her chase ducks and geese, and as any good spaniel would do, jumped into the lake in pursuit. But Judy was always first in her heart, she was her shadow and constant companion.

Monday, was sad day in our household, Judy and I lost our Minnie Scule to Kidney failure and probable sepsis this evening. Over the past few months she has been battling it, but over the past couple of weeks she would have good days and bad, some days she would eat and other times not, and and her weight went down from about 14 1/2 pounds to by today less than ten.

But it was last week when things started to get really bad. She stopped eating and no matter what we tried we couldn’t get her to eat. So we began to make daily visits to the vet where we would drop her off for tests, IVs, medication, and really everything the vet could try to attempt to reverse the course of the disease and to try to get her to rally. On Saturday it seemed like she might be rallying but Sunday morning she was worse. While at home we did everything the vet had us do and more, but even had she staged a rally, she might have just lived another couple of weeks or months.

Last night was weird. She usually sleeps next to Judy or between her legs. About 3 AM Judy got me up because Minnie wasn’t on the bed. We looked everywhere and couldn’t find her and she wouldn’t respond to us. I finally found her curled in some clothes in a pull out bin on my side of the bed. I have heard the stories of dogs who knew it was time to die by leaving home and going into the woods, but since she couldn’t get out and was really too week to go anywhere else in the house she went to that spot. I got her back in the bed, and we both petted her for a long time and told her how much that we loved her.

Today we took her in for a last ditch effort, but I could tell that her breathing was labored and heartbeat too fast, and she was pretty much skin, fur, and bones. Not long after I got out of my latest set of knee injections at the Naval Medical Center I got a call from the vet who has been seeing her since she was a 2.4 pound puppy. He was not hopeful at all but gave us some options which included taking her to a 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital where she could receive round the clock care, but I didn’t expect that to do anymore and asked if at the end of the day we could take her home and see how she did. He was agreeable to that and agreed to meet us in the morning as he had to leave early, leaving her in the care of another very good and experienced vet who we also really like. About 4 PM, the other doctor called and said that she had gotten significantly worse. So we made the decision that it was time. We got to be with her and the doctor who had been hers since the beginning came back to the office to be with us.

Minnie was on Judy’s lap, completely limp, With no energy at all, and her breathing worse than in the morning. She lay completely limp in Judy’s arms as we petted and talked to her, then mustering whatever strength she had left she shifted her body in order to be in a place where she could see both of us, and then collapsed again in Judy’s arms. She Expended her last ounce of strength to see us. She knew that it was time. She was so weak that the injection took just seconds to put her out of her suffering. She died in Judy’s arms with me beside her. Despite, that her face looked calm, and she never lost her beauty. It was hard to believe that she was gone.

We had dinner and Judy went to bed with Izzy going up to be with her while Pierre, the daddy’s boy that he is came downstairs with me as I tried to answer the hundreds of condolences and heartfelt messages that we received in less than a couple of hours. They were all heartfelt and genuine. I could just barely reply to a few because I was just trying to hold the tears back. So I went through my email I had a really kind message from Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. When I read it I burst out crying. It was one of the kindest, most considerate notes on a personal loss I have ever received from anyone. He found out through a mutual long time friend that Minnie had died, and his words had the depth our soul, character, and spirituality that are lacking in so many Christian churches and other religious organizations.

Mikey is a friend, and his organization defended me when one of my retired parishioners at my old chapel attempted to have me tried by Court Martial for a sermon that I preached, in which he made bold faced lies about what I said. But the command conducted an investigation and I lawyered up with the best, the MRFF. The attorney handled the investigation well, and the investigating officer interviewed over half of the congregation present that day. None corroborated the lies of my accuser and the investigation was dropped. What was interesting was that one of the questions asked was how each parishioner viewed me. Active duty personnel, a tiny minority in the congregation had no problems with what I preached on that day, and regardless of their race they defended me to a person. The retiree population was another matter. Blacks viewed me and my preaching favorably, one even saying that my words that day “sounded like the voice of God.” But the Whites, though not backing the accuser, all said that they thought that I “was too liberal to preach in a military setting.”

I found that perplexing because when I preach I use the texts from the lectionary and apply basic Catholic theology and social teaching to them and couple them to what is known as the Anglican triad, of Scripture, Church Tradition, and Reason. Then I preach a sermon firmly grounded in these. As well as history, since I also happen to be a historian, but I digress. The point is, that Mikey came to my aid when most Christians, including some members of the Chaplain Corps would have thrown me under the bus. I respect him, and I love him.

His note meant so much, not that the other expressions from so many others mean anything less, because I appreciated all of them, and as I said I was fighting back the tears when I read them.

Mikey noted something else in his reply to my reply on his first email. He noted how much his dogs were like family, and that they tended to be better friends and more loyal than most people. I have to agree with that. Others, going back to the Greek philosophers have said much the same thing.

Charles Darwin noted: “Man himself cannot express love and humility by external signs, so plainly as does a dog, when with drooping ears, hanging lips, flexuous body, and wagging tail, he meets his beloved master.“

When I think of Minnie, and our other pups, I think of that. She was a joy, I shall never forget her and I will always miss her. If I get to heaven, I know that she will be waiting for me, with Molly, and maybe Frieda and Greta, and providing that if I outlive them, certainly Izzy and Pierre.

Until whenever,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Recovery Night

Judy Waiting For Her Trip to the Operating Room

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It has been a hellaciously long and tiring day, following a long day of preparation.

On the positive side Judy’s knee replacement surgery was very successful and recovery wise she is well ahead of where she was weeks after the first surgery. The hospital physical therapist was really impressed.

This is mostly a testimony of how hard she worked in physical therapy after the home healthcare physical therapist pushed her so hard that she tore one of her quadriceps, setting back her recovery by over a month. Of course back then she walked into the hospital on crutches, she couldn’t walk without them. It has been months since she used them last and now is using the stair rider only when she has to carry heavy loads upstairs.

My Regal Pierre Puppy

Now I am home sipping a glass of wine and hanging out with our puppies. In the morning I’ll go back over the floors and master bath so that when she comes home it is to as sterile environment as I can make it. The puppies won’t be happy because for the next week or so I will be living with them downstairs at night to make sure she doesn’t get any infections. Since the puppies love to cuddle us at night they will not be happy that they only get daddy, especially Minnie, who is Judy’s shadow. Pierre and Izzy would just as soon hang with me but when we go to bed Izzy likes to sleep on the pillow behind Judy’s head. Pierre, the cool puppy just likes his space on the cedar chest at the foot of our bed. Even so, I’ll be on the couch and they will be positioned around me like last night. During the day we’ll put a flat sheet on top of our duvets so they can hang out with us under close supervision.

Minnie making a Bed on a Quilt Judy had folded and put on Our Linen Shelves

As for the rest of the day I was tired. After Judy left the preparation stage and went to the OR I went and got breakfast with lots and lots of coffee prior to going to the memorial service for our friend Mitch Vickers, before dashing back to the hospital to wait for her to go to her room. In that time I did a bit more work on the pamphlet that I am preparing to go along with my sermon at Norfolk’s Temple Israel on the last Sabbath of Passover and the beginning of Holocaust memorial week.

One of Izzy’s nicknames is Miss Kiss

So anyway, I am pooped. I’ll probably watch a movie and some episodes of The West Wing of Cheers before I let the pups out one more time and lay my head down on the couch. If you wonder why I do this, it is because Minnie will keep me awake barking all night if she is cut off from us. To help her, at the suggestion of Judy I have put one of Judy’s nightgowns for Minnie to snuggle on.

Thank you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. We really do appreciate them.

So until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Lazy Saturdays and Puppy Love

                  Left to right: Minnie, Izzy, and Pierre giving me my Saturday morning wake up call 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I love Saturday mornings. They are the time that I take the time to relax and do nothing except sleep late, enjoy my Minnie, Izzy, and Pierre, not to mention Molly who we lost in 2015. Since I returned from Iraq our dogs have been a source of comfort and joy, they do more for me than almost anything in the world. There is nothing better for dealing with PTSD than puppy love. This morning each of them took individual and group time with me as I lay in bed, and when I got up to drink my coffee and read all of my online news subscriptions at least one was snuggled next to me. I also love watching them play, which is yet another source of joy. 


Saturday’s are also the time when Judy and I catch up on little things. I like to browse the grocery store, and take care of simple chores, nothing big because that would entail real work. When I finish my cup of coffee and get a shower I’ll do the grocery store and run a few other errands before coming home.  Today Judy is making earrings for a silent auction at the Gordon Biersch Christmas in July tapping which will be used to offset medical costs for the mother of one of our servers. She is waiting for a double lung transplant. One thing I do like about Biersch, it is a family affair. For us it is our version of Cheers – place where everybody knows our name. When Judy went through her cancer surgery two years ago it was the people from Biersch, managers, chefs, servers, bartenders, and friends who rallied to help. Church friends simply said they pray, but none bothered to even visit during her hospitalization or prolonged recovery. 


So now it is time to get ready to run those errands and hit the grocery store. Izzy will have to have her snuggle time interrupted, and she is not happy about it, but such is life.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

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Papillion Therapy


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Dean Koontz wrote: “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as a deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”

I do believe that Mr. Koonz is correct. We don’t have kids, not that we didn’t try, but we have always had dogs. Our first two dogs were Dachshunds, Frieda, a Wire Hair that we got in Germany, and Greta a smooth hair that we got in Texas. They were both great dogs and we still have a soft spot for Wiener Dogs. 


But today we are blessed to have the three best dogs in the world, Minnie Scule, Izzy Bella, and Pierre. They are all Papillons, a small breed of Spaniels from France. The breed is ranked in the top ten most intelligent breeds and they are in my view scary smart. But they are also incredibly sweet, sensitive, playful, decidedly quirky and sometimes obnoxious, in a good way.


I love spending Saturday and Sunday morning with Judy and our babies. Sometimes we sleep late and then after they have gone out to do their business just lay in bed with them, and let them play or cuddle. It is one of the most therapeutic things in the world for both of us since we both suffer from PTSD and have struggled with depression. They are so therapeutic that I often stay off the internet and social media just to enjoy them. 


Our Papillon experience began with Molly, a half-Papillon and half-Dachshund mix that we got as a rescue in September of 2001. We lost her at age 14 in May of 2015, but she was an amazing dog. Exceptionally sensitive and sweet, Judy nicknamed her “Nurse Molly” because if we were physically sick or depressed she would be there doing whatever she could to comfort us. In 2011 Molly decided that she wanted to live with me when I was stationed in North Carolina as our home in Virginia with Judy couldn’t compete with chasing deer off my lawn or running on the beach. So a few months later we got Minnie.



Now Minnie was only two and a half pounds when we got her and she became Judy’s baby. Until she got too big she would sit on Judy’s shoulder like a Parrot. Minnie is funny. She’s very smart, and sweet, but very quirky. She talks like Scooby Doo and has something to say about everything. She’s now five years old, when I walk her in the neighborhood she likes to chase the ducks, geese, and rabbits occasionally diving into the water after a duck. She’s also my drinking buddy. She loves to steal my beer and is an incorrigible thief, but we love her. She can be aloof at times and acts like she’s the Queen of the manor. Minnie grew up a bit. We thought she would be about 7-8 pounds but she topped out at 12 pounds, sometimes a bit more. She has the light bone structure of a classic Papillon and is a Black and White with the black ticking that looks like freckles and a crooked blaze that makes her almost look like a dwarf Australian Shepherd.


A couple of months before we lost Molly we got Izzy. Izzy is fascinating. She like Molly is our nurse and once when we had a friend over and he was mourning the loss of his parents, she glued herself to him trying to make him feel better. In fact it is my plan to get her certified as a therapy dog. We got Izzy at the same age we got Minnie but she was already four pounds and built like a tank. The first time our vet met her he picked her up during the examination and said “My, she’s sturdy!” Sturdy is not a word commonly associated with the breed, but Izzy is just that. Slightly smaller in height and length than Minnie she outweighs Minnie by a pound or a pound and a half. She’s built like a tank, not an ounce of fat on her, just solid muscle and bone. When she jumps on you, especially if you’re not expecting it can take the wind out of you, it’s like being blindsided by a linebacker. Izzy is a very distinctive looking Tricolor who is also incredible agile and loves to dance doing pirouettes when she wants attention.



Izzy and Minnie have been together now a bit over two years and in February we ended up getting our little boy Pierre unexpectedly. Some friends found that his owner could not afford surgery for a luxating patella. They helped arrange for us to get him and he is a joy. He’s a year old and at 4.5 pounds is about as big as he is going to get. He’s incredibly sweet, has a bit of a grumpy side when he doesn’t want to do something, and like Minnie he is talkative, and like Izzy he is incredibly playful. Despite their size difference he and Izzy play constantly and when they wrestle they grapple like MMA fighters with Pierre fighting a bit out of his weight category, but he gives as good as he gets. Sometimes when we go to bed it is time for them to launch their evening Pappy War.


Our life is better for having our puppies, they are amazing therapy. So I guess when I get home from work I’ll get greeted by the three pups and when we get back from our time out with friends we’ll have our evening play and snuggle time with Minnie, Izzy, and Pierre.

Life is good. Have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Great Hampton Roads Blizzard of 2017

dairy-queen-restaurants-blizzard-deal-for-september

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I live in southeastern Virginia and beginning last night we have been under a Blizzard warning. Blizzards are not uncommon here, but normally when one wants a Blizzard here they go to Dairy Queen, but this time Mother Nature has given us a real blizzard.

It’s crazy enough here that the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore is in town. Parts of the area now have over 10 inches of snow although our neighborhood only has about 6 inches on the ground right now and I expect by the end of the storm our total will be between 6 and 8 inches of snow. The one thing that has kept our snow total down is the fact that we began the storm with sleet and freezing rain, which has also been interspersed with the heavy snow and high winds. The combination has left the roads very icy and dangerous.

We lost power for a couple of hours when according to the police some idiot crashed into a power line pole. When that happened we bundled up, defrosted the Escape and took a short drive over to Gordon Biersch until we knew that power had been restored. Since there were very few people there we had some wings and a couple of beers and Judy introduced me to a fascinating tile game called Quirkle.

The road conditions were bad. The snow was heavy and the roads icy and though few people were on the road, it was obvious that many had no idea what they were doing.

Now our Papillons love the snow, especially Izzy. It is so fun to see them play and get what Pappy owners call the “zoomies.”

So anyway, wherever you are I wish you a great day while I eat my special recipe chili and drink beer.

Peace

Padre Steve

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The Papillon Gambit

Izzy and Minnie on the Hunt

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

I love my two Papillons, Minnie and Izzy. Minnie is coming up on five years old while Izzy is coming up on two. They are from different breeders and have completely different personalities but they are a perfect pair and a great team.

They both are sweet and incredibly intelligent; in fact they are scary smart and they continue to surprise us with their scheming and attitude.

I try to walk them around the lake near our home two to three times a day. There are a lot of ducks as well as geese, not to mention other birds, squirrels, and rabbits for them to track and chase. I know that is nothing unusual for anyone with a dog, most dogs love to chase and to hunt. However, lately these two have pulled something new that none of our other dogs have ever done and which we have not taught them to do, though I wish I had. I hate to admit it but I do encourage their bad habits.

Recent they have adopted a classic military strategy to outflank and surround the ducks and geese. One will go down the bank of the lake and chase them toward the other who goes higher and then comes down to cut off their retreat. It is amazing to watch. They both have different methods of the hunt. Most of the time Izzy plunges headlong to the attack, but Minnie, she quietly sneaks up, almost crouching and tiptoeing as she stalks her prey. 

When they perform what I now call the Papillon Gambit, it is Izzy who goes down the bank to flush out the prey, while Minnie sneaks around the flank, but last night they switched roles. It was amazing to watch. Yesterday, during their morning walk Izzy took the low road on some Muscovy ducks while Minnie went high and dove down. This time the ducks didn’t realize it until the last second and for the first time I actually saw them take to flight in order to avoid being trapped. But this time they barely escaped. In a near panic the ducks turned and flew away from Minnie and a large drake barely avoided being snatched out of the air by Izzy. Had she got him it would have been really interesting. 


Minnie and Izzy 

Now mind you, Minnie and Izzy are not very big, even though they are large for Papillons, Minnie is 12 pounds while Izzy weighs in at 13 pounds. Papillons do vary in size, some as small as 3 pounds and some up to twenty, but most fall into the 6 to 8 pound range. Minnie is actually a bit taller and longer than Izzy, but Izzy is built like a tank. She doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her, but as our vet said when he first saw her as a puppy, she is sturdy. The ducks in question are bigger than either of them, the males (drakes) average 10 to 18 pounds in weight while the females are a bit smaller. It is really funny to see such little dogs stalking such big prey. The one Izzy almost caught was large, probably in the 15-16 pound range. 

For those that don’t know much about the breed, they are Spaniels. Like other bigger breeds of Spaniels they are not afraid of water, or mud and occasionally will dive into the water to go after ducks or geese. They are also considered to be among the top dog breeds in terms of intelligence. They are incredibly sweet, loyal, and unfortunately sometimes they are a bit headstrong, with an attitude that you wouldn’t believe. That being said I have never seen two dogs work in tandem as these two girls do. They execute perfect flanking movements in order to trap their prey, you’d think that they were foxes or wolves, but they are Pappies.


Back in the 17th and 18th Centuries Papillons were a favorite among French royalty, in addition to being great lap dogs they doubled as great ratters, keeping the royal palaces free of vermin. It is written that Queen Marie Antoinette carried her pet papillon with her to the guillotine;  nothing is written as to whether the dog shared her fate, but I can imagine that the Papillon took a bite out of the executioner’s leg. Likewise, Madame Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, cherished a papillon called Inez. Despite being small, they are tough little dogs, and while incredibly sweet and friendly they are fearless. I find that quality quite endearing. 

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The papillon also appeared regularly in paintings featuring the 17th and 18th century royal children and ladies at court done by such old masters as Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck.Since we haven’t had problems with rats, Izzy tries to catch any flies or other insects that might come into view. It is fun to watch her trap and kill flies. 

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I have to say, that these two girls bring me a lot of joy and are exceptional therapy dogs for my continued struggle with the ongoing effects of PTSD. God I do enjoy them and how can I not?

Have a great weekend,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Saddest Day: Rest In Peace Molly Fur

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

It has been a tough day at Padre Steve’s home as we had to put our oldest dog, Molly Fur down. It has been a day where we have shed a lot of tears.

Dean Koontz Wrote:

“Dogs, lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.”

Molly was fourteen years old, a half Dachshund and half Papillon mix who was a rescue. Molly was the most amazing dog that we have ever had the honor of loving. Some people talk of being dog-owners, but we are dog-parents as we have never had any children of our own. Our dogs have been our children and we have been blessed to have all of them. Frieda, who was literally the “Dog from Hell” held us hostage for sixteen years was smart, beautiful, devious, and conniving. She fought us to be the Alpha of the family to the end of her life.  To her we were just the incompetent help.

Greta, our second baby, was sweet and lovable. But Greta was basically a “cookie-cutter” Wiener Dog. She was serious, and dour, and one hell of a tough dog. She was strongly territorial and woe betide any big dog who infringed on that territory. She took a mouthful of fur out of a Chow once, but I digress, this is about Molly…

Molly the Wonder Fur… I have a feeling that this article will eventually become the outline of a book, because Molly was amazing. I posted a short note about her loss with a picture of her running down the beach in North Carolina on my Facebook page after we put her down. Both Judy and I have been crying a lot today, even though it was time and Molly was suffering. Since posting that note I have been comforted by the comments of many friends, especially those who knew and loved her, of course reading those made me cry more, but I think that is okay. Anyway, let me tell the story of Molly Fur here. Gilda Radner said: “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” 

We had lost our first dog, a Wire Hair Dachshund named Frieda while I was deployed to Okinawa, Mainland Japan and Korea in April 2001. In October 2001 my wife Judy was at the veterinarian with our other Dachshund, a smooth-hair red named Greta, or Greta-Poo for a routine visit when she met a lady holding what Judy presumed to be a long-hair Dachshund puppy.  The lady explained that she had found the puppy along North Carolina Highway 24 in Carteret County covered in tar. The lady had cleaned her up and had brought her to the vet to get checked out and to get her immunizations. 

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Since we had a great deal of experience with Dachshunds Judy told the lady that they could be quirky and that if she needed any help to let her know. Three days later we received a call from the lady explaining that she could not hand the puppy as it was too much for her older dog and asked if we wanted her. Of course I said yes. We got to the lady’s home and were confronted with a dog that certainly was not a full-blooded Wiener Dog. The puppy had legs and her ears were mounted wrong, but she had a long Dachshund body and brilliant red fur. She looked like a little red fox. I fell in love at first sight and we took her home, thus began the saga of Molly the Fur.

Now Greta our Dachshund was not thrilled to have a puppy. Greta was mommy’s baby and was not going to let anyone come in the way. She was not happy and ensured that Molly knew that, however, Molly was undeterred and one day when Greta tried to bully Molly, the Moll kicked her ass. After that the too maintained a state of detente, not really liking each other but working together to raid the cupboards, steal food and to raid the kitchen garbage can. When Greta had to put down in June of 2003, Molly became an only dog-child.

Molly was always smart, in obedience school she was not the most obedient but she charmed people and she was the class clown. As she got older she became scary smart, but unlike Frieda who used her brains for nefarious purposes, Molly was simply inventive, resourceful and undeterred in finding solutions to any obstacle that she faced. Likewise, Molly’s cheerfulness and sweet demeanor was something that endeared her to everyone who ever got to know her.

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Looking for Birds and Squirrels 

Molly was also became daddy’s girl and despite the fact that I was often deployed or frequently on the road that never changed. Molly was daddy’s girl from day one until the end.

We almost lost Molly when she was seven, when she developed a strange spinal infection. It was a difficult battle and she was in a lot of pain but she overcame it and had completely recovered in about a month’s time.

However, that infection and Molly’s recovery showed us that she was even smarter than we had imagined. As I mentioned the infection was painful for her.  She was basically put in enforced bed rest in a large laundry basket, which we were the enforcers. Molly handled that well and let us know that if she was hurting that she did not want to be picked up.

One funny thing that she did was to start screaming like a two year old child whenever Judy approached her basket. It was amazing. If she didn’t want to be picked up she didn’t bark, she screamed a blood curdling scream. When she recovered she went back to normal, but continued to amaze us with the new and inventive ways that she dealt with obstacles.

Molly loved Christmas. Her first Christmas we wrapped her up a toy and gave it to her. She immediately unwrapped it and began to play. thereafter every Christmas we did this and every Christmas she opened her presents with the joy of a child.

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She also came to love the snow, she was never much a fan of rain, but she loved the snow. It was funny during  our “Februwinter.” Molly was not in the greatest shape but handled the amazingly severe winter weather with aplomb, she with Minnie and Izzy who we had just got, had fun in the snow.

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Molly in her first snow, December 1983

Molly always had a sense for when we were hurting or sick. If we were not doing well she became “Nurse Molly.” Judy gave her that name because of her devotion to trying to make us feel better whenever we were sick or down. Since I am basically a Chaplain version of Doctor House, Nurse Molly was a tremendous comfort.

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When I returned from Iraq I was a mess. PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, night terrors and chronic sleep problems plagued me, and often still do. However Molly looked after me and I give her credit for helping save my life during those incredibly dark times when I often saw no hope and wanted to die. Over the years it was Molly’s amazing resiliency and devotion that helped keep me alive.

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When I was assigned to Camp LeJeune a second time in 2010 Molly decided, after a visit where Judy was recovering from Achilles Tendon surgery that she wanted to stay with daddy. How could she not?

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Molly Tracking a Deer in my back yard in Emerald Isle

I lived in an apartment under a beach house in Emerald Isle. Outside my door there were deer, squirrels, birds, and did I say deer? I lived about three-tenths of a mile from the beach and every day she and I would take a walk, she would chase deer and then were would hit the beach. In Virginia we have a small back yard and though there are squirrels and birds it could not compete with Emerald Isle.

One of the things that happened in Emerald Isle was on July 4th of 2011. Judy and Molly had come down for a short visit and Judy wanted to see the fireworks which were being launched from the Emerald Island Pier. The three of us went down to the beach and it was packed with people. I don’t do crowds well, I still get panicky in crowds. I also don’t do explosions well. It wasn’t the main show that got me it was the fact that everyone and their brother’s cousin’ father-in-laws next door neighbor’s roommate were there and were shooting off industrial grade fireworks right on top of me. I was melting down and flashing back to Iraq, Molly sensed that I was not doing well and moved close to me. Then to defend me she looked up and started barking at the fireworks. She was unfazed by the explosions and was determined to protect me. I love her to this day for helping to save my life.

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Visit to the Pet Store: Can I Have one Daddy? 

When Molly came to North Carolina she really came into her own. She almost bagged a few deer, including one which was sleeping just off my porch.Thankfully I was able to stop Molly’s attack with a big tug on the retractable leash with Molly just inches from taking a bite out of the left flank of the unsuspecting deer. I would have hated to explain to the local Department of Fish and Game officials how a 15 pound dog had taken a bite out of a deer.

Molly went everywhere with me and loved the rides in the car. She also loved the visits to the pet store which we call the “cookie store” and the walks on the beach. Just before I returned to Virginia in 2013 Molly went blind, just before this she had caught a butterfly in mid-air. She held onto it for five minutes before releasing it unharmed, except for the PTSD that the poor insect must have had.

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As I have already mentioned Molly, loved to do things with me, and one thing she really enjoyed were the long rides between Virginia Beach and Emerald Isle. On those rides we would stop to get something to eat, usually going through various drive thru restaurants where I would get her what I called a “Molly Burger” a plain hamburger that she would scarf down. Of course she tended to get a Molly Burger any time we went out when I lived in North Carolina.

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So Much to Choose From…

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Turn left at the drive through

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Keep the Window Down…

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Daddy and his Girl, Molly always was interested in the computer

Molly was also responsible for us having Papillons. We came to love Molly’s cheery, happy and funny Papillon side. Now Molly did have a Dachshund side of her personality as well, but she operated as either one or the other, so we never knew if we were going to get the “happy Pappy” of the serious Dachshund. But Molly’s Papillon side caused me to get Judy a Papillon just about a month after Molly a abandoned Judy to move to North Carolina with me. This Papillon is Minnie, or her full name “Minnie Scule.” In February we got Minnie a pappy-puppy named Izzy, or “Izzy Bella.” They are a joy. They are not Molly and they, even though both are full blooded Papillons have wildly different personalities. They are now best buddies and partners in crime.

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Minnie and Izzy 

Molly also shares some of the responsibility of bringing Frieda back into our lives. The vet that I took Molly to in North Carolina was the same one that Frieda and Greta went to, as well as the first that Molly went to. In 2012 Molly had to have a painful but benign tumor removed from her shoulder. When she came back from the surgery I felt a strange presence in the apartment and began to see Frieda sized shadow figures. Judy noticed them too in her visits and when Molly and I returned for good Frieda came with us. Both of us occasionally feel her presence and see her shadow.

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The Wind on the Beach

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” Martin Luther

Anyway, as I mentioned Molly went blind just before returning from North Carolina. The blindness was very quick to develop, and according to the veterinary eye-speciallist was congenital. However, that did not stop Molly, she adapted and overcame. To prevent injury to her eyes we got her a clear visor which covered her head and eyes but still allowed her to function almost normally. She would use it like a blind person uses their cane to figure out where she was, and if needed as a weapon to get our attention. If we had to move furniture around, she figured out what was moved and proudly let us know what she knew. 

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Molly at Age Seven, Not long after surviving a serious Spinal Infection

About a year ago she was diagnosed with the beginning stage of renal failure. She continued to do relatively well until a few months ago when she began to shed a lot of weight. Even so until a couple of weeks ago she still got around fine and gave us little cause for concern. She took a serious turn for the worse last week. On Thursday she stopped eating as she was occasionally throwing up and had developed a bloody diarrhea but Saturday. Judy and I knew that she was in pain and suffering and while I was at Gettysburg we decided that today would have to be the day. I got home from Gettysburg last night and we loved on Molly. Since she would eat nothing else we got her some hot and fresh Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, which she ate joyfully.

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Molly Giving Orders

This morning we made arrangements to take her in. Minnie and Izzy both gave Molly gentle kisses and nuzzled her before we left. I am sure that they knew that Molly wasn’t coming back. The look of concern on Minnie’s face was heart-warming. Judy drove as I cradled Molly in my arms. With the exception of her time in North Carolina this vet, Dr Robin Knoppf of Abbey Animal Hospital has been her vet. Many of his staff have known Molly for years and a number were with us, one a tech named Sean were with us shedding tears for the Amazing Molly Fur.

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Happy Trails Molly…Until We Meet Again

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Just before eleven A.M. Dr Knoppf gave Molly the injection which helped Molly into the next phase of her journey. Judy and I were holding her and Dr. Knoppf had a hand on her as he listened to her final heartbeats. Molly died surrounded by people who loved her.

It was sad, but it was also reassuring for as we looked at her we could see that she was not longer in pain and was at finally at peace. Some believe that what we see in this live is final, but I am not so sure.

I fully expect that we will see Molly again. That being said I have been crying more that I have for any reason since I can remember. Judy has been too, and thankfully the Pappies, Minnie and Izzy have been wonderful.

Thank you for allowing me to share this, and remember to love your furry babies.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under dachshunds, dogs, papillons

Snow Days and a New Puppy

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We got hammered with some pretty good winter weather here in Hampton Roads, below freezing temperatures for several days followed by 5-6 inches of snow followed by sleet, ice and freezing rain. While not New England, and believe me I am not complaining this is a bit much for our local resources. VDOT and the local city workers are doing a good job clearing the main roads, but secondary roads as well as business, government and school parking lots are a mess.

The road network on the base where I work dates from when it was built in WWII. It is now the site of a number of Navy, Marine, Joint and NATO  headquarters, along with the Staff College. It takes forever to clear everything as the roads are narrow, developed land at a premium and nowhere to put the snow and ice. As a result, we were shut down yesterday and today. But we are not alone, school districts, colleges, businesses throughout the area are either shut down or running at the bare minimum capacity. Such as life in the coastal mid-Altantic. I would hate to see what would happen if we experienced what Boston and New England are going through.

Tonight, more snow in the forecast followed by extreme cold the next two days before things start warming over the weekend.

But the snow days have allowed me to have some daddy-puppy bonding time with the newest member of our little family, Izzy Bella.

Izzy is a Papillon and she and her breeder flew here yesterday from South Dakota. Izzy has already adapted and our two other girls, Molly our nearly 14 year old Papillon Dachshund mix, and Minnie our three year old Papillon are as well to having a new little sister. By the way, Izzy’s breeder has two boys still unspoken for, and if you want I can help you get in touch with her.

If you don’t know Papillons, they are a wonderful breed. They are in the top ten breeds for intelligence, very smart, very sweet, very playful and funny and great companions or therapy dogs. Molly, though only half-Papillon helped keep me alive during the worst of my PTSD times after Iraq. If either of us are having a bad day it is hard to be depressed as Minnie won’t let that happen.

For little dogs they are great dogs for guys. I am amazed at all the pictures on the Facebook Papillon sites of big brawny men with these dogs. They are playful, funny and tough.

Anyway, I digress. I hope you have a good day wherever you are and look for some more scintillating commentary, hard hitting articles and of course a lot of history on the site in the coming days.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under dogs, Loose thoughts and musings, papillons