Operation Secret Puppy

It’s not often that I manage to hoodwink my husband.

I do not have a poker face.  I have a “boy oh boy do I have a secret I betcha can’t guess what it is!” kind of face.  Somehow, though, last week I managed to pull it off.

My husband with his “surprise” puppy

For a while now, we’ve been discussing the possibility of getting another dog — a sibling for Bonnie, our Shetland Sheepdog.  My husband loves tri-color Shelties, and said that if we were ever to get another dog, that’s the one that would win his vote.  He liked the idea of having two little bookends — one with a sable coat, one with a tri-color coat.  But in the end we pretty much tabled the whole idea, and decided to revisit it after our own “puppies” graduated from college.  Besides, we thought, how could we possibly ever find a dog as wonderful as our beloved Bonnie?

My Bonnie Valentine

Bonnie was a surprise present from my husband five years ago.  Sheltie purists might not appove of her one-ear-up-one-ear-down look (show dogs of this breed sport folded ears), but we think it gives her personality and sass and wouldn’t change it for the world.  In fact, we’re convinced Bonnie is an angel in a fur suit.  She keeps me company while I write, takes me on walks when I need a break, and lights up our home life in ways none of us could ever have imagined.  We adore her.

So here we were, content with our “only” dog, when lo and behold what should appear on Facebook a few weeks ago but baby pictures — and not just any baby pictures, but charming shots of two tri-color pups from Kensil’s Shelties. Sylvia and David Calderwood raised Bonnie, and all their dogs are amazingly beautiful and smart, with sweet temperaments. These pups were EXACTLY the kind we WOULD have been looking for, IF we were looking for another puppy.  Which we WEREN’T, remember?


Last week, egged on by my 19-year-old son, I decided to surprise my husband (turnabout being fair play and all that), and Billie came to join our family.  The look on Steve’s face was worth every second I’d spent agonizing over whether I had made the right decision.  Wouldn’t you have melted, too?

Billie Holliday Frederick

As for Bonnie, she took one look at her new “little sister” and tore around the yard for several minutes doing happy laps. She’s since taken Billie under her wing, showing her the ropes…

Bonnie & Billie exploring the backyard

and sharing her toys…

“May I please play with this now?”
“Thank you!”

and even sharing her favorite bed (along with another toy).

Billie catching some zzz’s

Of course, being a big sister does have some perks.   Twice as many dogs means twice as many new toys, after all!

Bonnie with one of Billie’s toys


On a cold rainy day last winter, my sister found Georgy — weak, abandoned, and huddled under a bush.  What could she do but take her home?

She quickly won their hearts, and has become a loved member of the family.

Even if she is a little eccentric.

End of an era

We said good-bye to our chickens today.

After several enjoyable years as a chicken mama, the time finally came to turn the page on this chapter of my life.  A little too much mess, a little too much extra work, a little too much, um, poo.

Fortunately, our sons’ wonderful first grade teacher, who is a dear friend, offered to adopt them.  She’s an enthusiastic urban farmer, and every year she hatches out eggs in her classroom.  I still remember how excited our boys were the week that the chicks arrived.  I also remember how excited our youngest was after an impromptu visit to her home, where he spent a thrilling hour in the backyard hunting for eggs.  Afterwards, he announced that he was going to start a business when he grew up, and that he already had a name for it: 1-800-Egg-Finders.  “I’ll bet a lot of farmers will want to hire me,” he told us confidently.

(Much to his embarrassment, I reminded him of this a few years ago when I brought three little chicks home from the feed store.)

In the time they spent with us, our “girls” provided not only eggs, but also endless entertainment.  They were convinced that Bonnie, our Shetland Sheepdog, was their mother, and spent their days trailing around after her.  One chicken even took to laying her eggs in the dog house.  All three of them were determined to be house pets, and any door left open more than a crack would soon find a chicken sneaking through it.

Our boys are all grown up now, one about to graduate high school and the other soon to start his senior year in college.  They’re no longer as thrilled with chickens, nor with the responsibility that comes with raising them.  They have been enjoying their hunting trips though, if you’re curious about them, you can learn more by clicking here. And I’m finding that as I devote more and more of my time to writing books these days, I have less and less time for other things.  Especially other things that need to be fed, watered, shooed out of the house and the garden, or otherwise watched over.  So this morning my husband and I rounded up our trio of hens — Dixie, Trixie, and Pixie — and drove them to their new home.  It’s a little piece of chicken heaven, with several lush acres to roam, a sturdy red hen-house filled with new feathered friends, and overseeing it all, a resident llama.  Who could ask for more?

Still, I’ll miss our girls.