Saturday, February 25, 2017

Life as seen from 4 paws - the new home

Good morning my puppy brothers and sisters, where ever you all have scattered.  I am so glad that you have all found your fur-ever homes.  I heard Denise talking to my human, Chuck, mentioning that our entire brood have all been adopted.  It is neat that each of us has found the human that we were hoping for.

Life here has been quite interesting the past couple of weeks.  It was two weeks ago today that I moved into my human’s place.  It is nice, let me tell you.  They have big grassy areas that they call “outside” and big soft areas they call “inside”.  They even have a couple of caverns they call “crates”.  I am getting 3 squares a day, plus additional snacks that I will explain later.  Plus plenty of toys.  And my adopted brother Sleepy, i mean Bristol.  Life is nice.

Sleepy is doing well.  Dog, that pup can sleep.  I want to play, chase, chew and run.  He loves to get up on the sofa and snooze with his human.  It is getting up on the sofa that is so funny.  For me, it is a few steps an I am airborne, coming to a soft landing on the sofa.  For Sleepy though, it is not so easy.  I laugh as I watch him get a running start and generally launch himself into the side of the sofa.  He has about a 2 inch vertical leap.  His human helps him up though, and he curls up there and falls asleep.  For hours at a time.  I swear, i think i saw him fall asleep in mid leap one time.  As Denise says, sleeping is Bristol’s super power.

About those snacks I mentioned.  I am working hard on training my human.  He is making great progress.  He is learning to give me treats almost on my demand.  At first, it was when i would get into my crate, then when I would sit.  But now, wow, I finally started training Chuck on clicker training.  He is learning to give me a treat whenever the clicker clicks.  No matter what I am doing!  I know!!  I will need to continue to work with him so that he carries the clicker more often and clicks it more often, but he is doing great so far.

Our walking training is going okay.  It is hard to teach Chuck that I get to go wherever I want when on a walk.  He seems to like it when I stay on the path and close to him.  He is missing the simple joy of picking up sticks, smelling grass and chasing leaves.  I will keep working with him though.  I think he needs to learn some of these things, life as a human seems as if it can be a bit stressful.  He needs to learn to relax and to smell the sticks, leaves, plants, grass, floor, furniture and all of life around us.  It seems to make him happy when I stay closer to him on our walks at times, and I like to hear him singing my praises.  So, I will do that for him at times.

I am working on understanding my human’s body language.  There are certain things that I just cannot quite understand yet.  One is the apparent  difference between “inside” and “outside”.  I think both are nice.  Outside is fun with the grass and leaves and such, but inside is right there, close and accessible.  For some reason, when i need to relieve myself, they seem to like it more when I do it “outside” rather than “inside”.  Not quite sure why yet, but I will continue to try to understand it.  When I go outside, i get all sorts of praise and joy.  Inside, and I get picked up and taken outside.  They are smart though, I am sure they will help me understand what it is they want before too long.

“Inside” does not have sticks and leaves, but it has so many toys to play with and chew on.  Bones, squeaky things, kongs, nyla-bones, blankets, shoes, sofas, crates, chair legs, fingers and more.  There are many times that I will be busy chewing on one thing and they will bring me another to chew on.  I told you, they are pretty well trained, always working on making sure I am fed, content and happy.

Now, Sleepy still needs a little work.  He seems to think that he can chew on my toys when he wants to.  My human really should buy him some toys and chew things as well.  So far, I have two great bones, a bunch of nyla-bones, about 4 different kongs, and an assortment of other entertaining chew toys.  He, however, has nothing.  So, of course, he tries to take mine.  It keeps me so busy, I will be chewing on my bone and Bristol will pick up my other bone.  So I will need to drop my one bone and go get my other bone back.  The nerve of that pup.  But, I am sure I will get him trained over time.  He is kinda fun to wrestle with and run around the house with.  I never see our humans wrestling and racing around like we do.  They are missing out on a lot of fun.

At the end of the day, though, Sleepy and I get along pretty well.  We share our crate for naps and night time.  Sleepy’s, sorry, Bristol’s human thinks it is cute and likes to take pictures of us curled up together as we sleep.  Sometimes the Pupparazzi can get a little irritating.  At times it is just fun to mess with her.  I walk next to her and she takes my picture, i curl up with Sleepy and she takes my pic.  I have found that she will take my pic when i just put my ears up.

That “ears up” leads to some interesting discussions.  They have decided, in their mind, that I may not be mostly lab, like they thought.  Chuck has decided that I am part lab, part retriever and part shepherd.  Of course those are his favorite breeds.  He is slowly understanding that I am “100% me and 100% his”, and that that breed is the most important part of all.

One thing that I have not yet figured out is why my human leaves early every morning except for the weekends.  I don’t know where he goes and why he is gone so long.  I do know that he comes home to me at the end of each day and I welcome him and let him know how glad I am that he is back.  That is the best 45 seconds of the day, until Sleepy takes yet another of my toys and I am off again.

Other dogs have questioned, or laughed at, our both selecting the same human family, but it is working out pretty well.  They have each other to entertain each other when we are resting.  Of course, we do the entertaining when we are awake.  We both give attention to both of the humans, but we know whose is whose.  Like now, Sleepy is up on the sofa with Denise, sleeping (no surprise there) and I am chewing on one of my two bones on a blanket on the floor next to Chuck as he writes on the computer.  They are really such nice humans to us and ask for so little.  Just a little bit of snuggling and letting them pet us and they very happy.  Sometimes I just lay back and let him scratch my chest and just look at him, telling him that “you are my human and that I am very happy that you are”.

Anyway, send me a note when you get a chance and let me know how your new families are working out.  You can reach me at “favoritepuppy@chucks”.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Life as seen from 4 paws

So, I was chillin in the crib with my bro's and sis's and a few other new friends at the Aurora outpost of the Anderson Animal Shelter.  We all got along well and such, but I was beginning to think that I wanted to adopt a person of my very own.  Don't get me wrong, the staff there was great, but they were busy and did not have the time to really get to know me.

It was Friday night and this nice couple came in to see us.  They were dressed in matching colors, kind of cute, but harmless.  I could see that these two had potential.  I had to wait a little bit as they looked over some of my different friends here.  They took Midnight out for a walk, well Midnight took them out for a walk.  He is part lab, like me, but much older.  He had turned the big 03 not too long ago, which is some other big number in dog years, but I don't really know what.  After they came back from that excursion, I looked them over closer.  Athletic, artistic and wanting a puppy.  They looked very loving to each other.  They had potential to be some pretty good humans.  I knew they were a bit old, but I figured I could inject a little youth into their world.

Anyway, I let the manager know that I wanted to spend a little time with them, so he brought me out of the crib to see them.  We spent a fun 10 minutes or so together.  I played a little fetch with them and snuggled with them a bit.  They seemed very nice, but I just was not quite sure.  I had my mind set on a pure athlete, but these two seemed pretty close.  I let the manager know that I appreciated the visit and thanked him, but i was not ready to make a decision.  

I wrestled with the thought of them all night long.  I could tell that the woman (he called her Denise) was not going to be my first choice, but the one called Chuck was really pretty special.  She would be a better match for a cute, quieter dog.  But, I knew that I could get to love her if I decided on him.  

As I thought about it, I realized that human that I was going to adopt did not need to be a purebred athlete, but that as long as he had many of the traits that a pure athlete would have, that I would be happy.  As I thought about, I realized that this Chuck was the human that i wanted to adopt.  I had really enjoyed my time with him and his beautiful bride on Friday night.  I know that I wanted to make them my forever family.  

Saturday morning, I let the day manager know that I wanted to reserve him so that no other dog would take them before I could get them here.  They said they don't often do that, but in my case they would make an exception.  I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon playing with my brothers and sisters for the last time, letting them know that I would be heading out soon.  Puppy, let me tell you they were jealous.  They commented on how pretty that Denise was, and that Chuck was nice too, but I knew that I had found a human that would care for me, talk to me, listen to me, walk with me and play with me.  I knew it would take a lot of patience and training, but that I would be able to build a bond with him that would last for years.  I knew that it was important that he feel and be seen as the Alpha human in this relationship, but I knew that I would be the one that controlled his heart.  

About mid-afternoon Chuck and Denise and Bristol came into our store.  Wait, Bristol?  All of my litter-mates were asking, who's this 4 legged intruder?  Had another dog selected my Chuck?  No, I told them, I had picked and reserved Chuck.  This gray beast of a puppy was Denise's dog.  "Are you crazy?" they asked?  Sharing two humans with another puppy?  I told them that I was fine with this.  Chuck was mine and Bristol was hers.  And that Bristol would keep her entertained when I was busy with Chuck.  

"You are so lucky" they said, "they are such a cute couple, with their matching colors and all." 

"You can tell that they are going to be fun to train and raise, and that you will have a very loved and cared for life" my brothers told me.  My sisters commented again about how pretty Denise was and how they would pick her in an instant.  I agreed that she is very beautiful and special in her own way, but that Chuck was my human, that he was perfect for me.

My dog family reminded me of all of the things to think about and said our good byes.

In the car, I finally got a good look at my new puppy mate, Bristol.  What the heck kind of dog was he, I asked.  He didn't answer me, he just howled.  

"Come on, dude" I said, "it is just a car ride, and my Chuck is right up there.  He won't let anything happen to us"  

" I know," he howled some more.  "My Denise is there as well, but I am six feet away from her and this is scary.  Listen, even Chuck is howling"

"He is not" I replied, "He is singing trying to calm you down"

"Sure sounds like howling" Bristol replied and went back to his howling.

I came to realize of the next few hours that any time Denise was away was a good time for Bristol to whine and howl.  And, any time Denise was there was a good time for Bristol to sleep.  Dog, can that puppy sleep.

Anyway, enough about him.  I am living the good life.  Chuck is an even better human than I thought.  He plays with me, holds me, pets me, runs with me, walks with me and takes me outside.  I really like that outside stuff.  Just sitting in my new back yard is great, feeling the grass under me and smelling all of the new smells wafting by.  

Chuck had a crate installed for me and I really like it.  It is a good place to rest and relax, kind of like my own dog cave.  I am thinking about installing a wide screen tv, at least 24 inches, in it, but that will be for later.  I can get in there whenever I want, and it is usually very nice.  Well, except when the Howler is in there with me, and Denise is not right there.  Does anyone have a pair of ear plugs I can borrow?

 I let the sleeping howler know that all of the toys here in the house are really mine.  He seemed surprised when he would pick up something to chew on and I would come take it away.  "You were already chewing on something" he would say.  

"Doesn't matter", I would say, "They are all my toys and right now I want to chew on the one you have".  I am sure he will learn over time.

I did need to let Chuck know that "Julie" was just my temporary name, that my real name is Samwise Gamgee.  Sam or Sammy for short. He has messed it up a couple of times, but I am thinking he will get the hang of it soon.

Anyway, I am liking my furever human and home a lot.  I am glad that I found him.


Friday, October 14, 2016

What I did this summer

How I spent my summer,

By Chuck Bennorth

I spent my summer with my beautiful bride Denise.  Together we spent much of our summer taking pictures, mostly in 1574. (don't ask how, just accept it)

We took pictures, a lot of pictures, mostly of people, which is one of my very favorite things to do.

Now some of you that know me will point out that I took pictures of people last summer and the summer before, and even the one before that.  That is true, but this time was different.

This year I got to take photos of friends.  Denise has the gift of being able to connect with people, and she helped us get to know many more friends at the Faire.  And really get to know them.  Besides simply taking their photos, I got to know them and to understand what an incredible group of people they are.  What a talented group they are.

And what a caring group they are, as I soon came to realize.  They are a family of people that care about their own, and rally around their own.  At the beginning of the summer, there is a very touching, somber and moving memorial for those in their faire family who were lost over the previous year.  The symbolism is very powerful and the emotions are pretty raw as these people honor those that were close to them.  There are not many times that I am moved to tears when taking photos, but seeing the care and the pain of these people in a very public memorial for those lost, is one of those times.

While taking photos, I had the pleasure of renewing friendships that I had made in previous years.

This wonderful family gave up their spot on the fence rail for us last year for a joust, so that we could see and photograph better, even though we did not know them at all.  This year they were some that we watched for a talked to each day.

I had taken photos of Shane over the years as he helped sell pewter at the Black Dragon.  His warm hello and cheerful banter was always fun to watch.  He had not been around for a bit, but I ran into him this year again.  Great to see him.

Terrence always had a smile for us, and would pose if we had a photo idea.  His stories about the flower of the day would keep us laughing.  The writing he shared on FB about the kind of life he wanted to live was really interesting.

Brian was another that I have known from the Black Dragon over the years.  Always greeted us with a kind word and a great smile.

Bob is one that we look for across the centuries and places.  We look for him in 1574, but have also seen him around 1919, 1944 and 1776.  A true Dr WHo.

Did I mention that I saw some wonderful acting this summer?  Turns out that William Shakespeare was a pretty good writer and these wonderfully talented actors brought his words to life for us this summer.  Shakespeare's Corner is one of my favorite stops when in 1574,  it has wonderful actors and wonderful early day lighting for my photos of these actors.

I saw these two performing Taming of the Shrew (I think).  The action, emotion and physicality of this scene amazed me.  Bravo to you both for that few minutes.

I always enjoy watching the intensity and depth of Stacy's acting.  What a force.

James (Large) was terrific in this scene.  He had no lines, but instead of just standing there watching, he watched and listened to what was said, and REACTED to them.  Even though he had no lines, you could see him preparing to respond at times, physically responding to the words being addressed to him.  I will not soon forget the acting lesson he gave me that day.

I enjoyed this scene with Aly and Drew a number of times, the rapier wit and comments that they would exchange.

I am not sure how it happened, but had the very good fortune to become a friend of this beautiful singer and person.  Generally later in a faire afternoon, I would find Denise and myself enjoying a one song concert just for the two of us from Taylor.  I would just stand there with this huge grin on my face listening to the most beautiful singing voice that i know.  Thank you Taylor for each of those songs.  I am eagerly awaiting the chance to buy your first CD.

This was another singer that we would search out each day, for two reasons.  Arne's songs are so witty and fun to listen to, and would always leave us laughing.  (assassins prayer was my favorite).  The other reason was that we like taking photos of the people we know at the faire, good pictures whenever possible.  Arne made it his personal mission to give us as goofy of a look or a smile whenever we tried to photograph him.  This is the best photo I have ever taken of Arne, and it was only because he did not know that I was there until after i had clicked the shutter.

Talking about talented people, Brian and Stephy created the costumes and looks that we would see them in each weekend.  I am fortunate if I can dress myself in things that somewhat go together, and these two would create these amazing looks from scratch.  Denise and I would look forward to the different looks that they would show up with each weekend.  They would also patiently wait and pose as I would get photos of these amazing costumes and looks.  Well done to you both.

Moonie has been a part of the faire for as long as I can remember.  His shows make me laugh over and over.  That handsome gentleman in the photo with Moonie is Bridger, Denise's son, here on a visit from Utah (and yes, he does look like Draco Malfoy).  Moonie selected Bridger to be part of his show that afternoon and Bridger did great.  As Moonie told him afterwards, "You were the best one".

A few weeks later, Denise's daughter Sierra joined us for a day at the faire.  While she was not on stage during the moonie show, she and Denise did manage to find the ice cream vendor at the faire.

My thanks to all of you, by the way, for your wonderful welcome of these two kids of ours.  Greeting them by name with smiles and conversation helped them to have the great times they both had.

After taking pictures of these two gentlemen, part of the royal court, for years, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dennis and Andy.  I learned that Dennis is not only an actor there, but a director as well, and that Andy is also a teacher at the Queen's college.  Two of the nicest guys you will meet there and both very encouraging to me about my photos.

We had the pleasure of getting to know Paula this year and to see the beautiful sewing and such that she is able to create.  I met William via comments on FB, but never was able to tell him hello in person, which is definitely on my list for next year.  Such kindness he sent my way via his thoughts on my photos.

I also had the honor of meeting these three this summer.  Besides being an actor at the faire, Cameron is a talented music composer and musician.  I have enjoyed listening to the music he has composed and had fun conversations with him about them.  Please check him out on soundcloud.  Giuseppe is an actor at the faire, a firefighter in his other life, and takes wonderful care of Taylor all of the time.  It was nice to be able to say hello to him this summer.  (He also does a good Errol Flynn impersonation for my camera).  JP is not only an actor at the faire, but around the far west suburbs where he both acts and directs.  We are looking forward to seeing his work there sometime soon.

Thanks to Denise, I was able to meet and come to appreciate the funniest witches that I have ever seen.  These ladies are better than Samantha and all of Harry Potter's friends combined.  The silliness and acting that they put into each weekend are wonderful.  (Favorite line of the faire: "Mildred, who gave you a sign?" "God", cracking us and herself up)

These 5 became wonderful friends over the summer.  We had known them a bit from last year, but this year became closer friends of ours.  Lori is one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet, always up beat and smiling.  Melissa always had a hug and a smile for us, and let us know she was glad we were there.  Susy (sans Foxen) was another that Denise really bonded with, a very talented writer whom we look forward to reading more from.  Risa always gave us laughs with her Beckett stories.  And, through Susy, we are getting to know Chris as well.

These are two of the younger performers at the faire.  Marion is one of the hardest workers there, always on the go and interacting with people.  She does a great job.  I have seen the other, (going by a stage name this year) growing up at the faire.  I have often enjoyed seeing how she would encourage and include in the young kids at the dances, welcoming them to the dance circle.

While we often would be dressed in matching colors, we decided to change things up by getting Denise a Faire garb of her own.  Besides the very pretty and fun outfit for Denise, this also led to a wonderful friendship with Susan.  The quick bond that grew between Susan, Denise and even our daughter is very special.  We are honored to have teamed with Susan this summer.

These three talented women decided to honor us with their friendship and encouragement this summer.  Kind words of appreciation for our photos, plus heartwarming greetings each time we saw them were much appreciated.  And talented, each one as well.  In addition to being a dancer, Erikka is a talented fashion designer and posts some of the most thoughtful and astute commentaries on life today, Kate is into some wonderful face painting, drawing, painting and acting, and Leah is a dancer, designer of art and painter.  We are so fortunate that they decided to include us in their circle of friends.

Gloria surprised us this summer, picking us out from the crowd and introducing herself to us.  Thank you so much Gloria for your kind words to us this summer and for taking the time to look at our photos.

So, what kept you the busiest at the faire?  I am glad you asked.

Being taught the very basics of sword-fighting by Jeff.  Thank you for the lesson and for not rapping my knuckles when I got it wrong.  And watching Jeff teaching others how to do this, always with patience and a smile.

Watching these two run the camp, making sure that people were where they needed to be and presenting their shows about how not to die and how weapons work.  You could easily see how much all of their team respected the leadership of these two.

I laughed every time they did some of the routines in their classes, particularly when Lt Chris would send Captain Chris to the corner for beating up on an example subject.

In addition, Lt Chris showed me some of his photography, some amazing work that I had never imagined.  Thank you for sharing and well done.

David became a friend over the summer as well, often making time to talk with us and teach us about Bristol history.  Speaking of other talents, David is a very talented organist.

We had the pleasure of getting to know Fred a bit last year, and enjoyed getting to know him better over the summer.  I think he would get a little tired of our cameras often pointing at him, but he took it in good humor.  His parts in the classes when he was the surgeon were terrific.  (wrap him in a blanket, call the clergy, for ....)

I was able to watch the friendships blossom between these next four woman and Denise.  Smiles, laughter and hugs between them were part of our time down with the GSM.

In addition to her acting here, Kate is involved in teaching actors, with some of her cast mates even being her students.  And she makes a pretty good witch when she wants to.

If you are ever looking for Shelly, figure out what needs to be done around GSM and she will often be involved in its getting done.  A true giving servant's heart and caring to all around.  If someone needs help, she is often the one they come to.

We enjoyed getting to know Jenni better this summer.  In the past, her roles limited us from being able to talk much, but this summer was different.  A very talented actress and a great sense of humor and laugh.

Heather was often around the GSM, so we had the honor of getting to know her a bit as well, and even more so this fall.  One of the things I often had trouble determining what was "real life" and what was "Faire life".  Heather was Andrew's twin sister, in some way.  It took me half the summer to determine that was "Faire life", not "Real life".  This photo was taken when Denise was trying to determine how we had missed taking a photo of Tuttle all summer.

The GSM is really a special group and a pretty close knit family within the faire.  You would often see the two young ones (nipperkins??) hanging around with the different GSM members.  The whole group would watch out for and interact with these two.  These two have more "aunts and uncles" than they know what to do with, and they are all the better for it.

These three welcomed us into their GSM world.  We had wonderful conversations with them, finding out more about who they are and what GSM is like.  Each had a smile, a handshake and a conversation with us.  Fun young actors who will go far in this world.

At times, I wondered if we were bothering them with our being around so much.  I wondered if this gentleman was trying to scare me off with this shot, but i was wrong.  We were so extremely honored as they welcomed us into their group whenever we were around, and adopted these two wandering photographers.

My favorite time of the day was late afternoon hanging around the GSM, talking with our friends and capturing photos as the light got better and better.

In addition to all of this, we took photos.  We photographed people in love.

People being loved.  (Happy birthday to Amanda from the BBF)

Warm and kind friends.

Smiles that would light up our day.

And the people of the Faire, which is what a Chuck do.

And best of all, I was able to do it nearly every weekend with my beautiful bride at my side.  Thank you Denise for sharing this with me all summer.  And for helping me to meet so many of these amazing, kind, fun and talented people.

We are already looking forward to next summer and seeing you all again.  Thanks so much for your kindness, kind words, friendships, acceptance and encouragements.