It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

It isn’t ever delicate to live.  ~Kay Ryan

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Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

Two weekends ago, well actually that entire week, I was working in my yard.  Yes, the very same yard work I should have done in the spring, or even the summer and yet here I am, trying to get it done before winter sets in and hunting season starts.  Luckily, we’ve had a pretty mild fall.  We’ve even been blessed with nice temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s and overcast with some sun.  Perfect for outside work.

I’m glad I got my work done because as of today,  the snow rolled in.  Only a few inches but still a pleasant sight.  I love snow!

You see spring always seems to sneak up on me and then I miss the boat with respect to tending to the lawn.  Then summer rolls around and I don’t handle the heat and the sun too well.  Literally!  Being outside in the sun makes me sick to my stomach.  I get really bad headaches and let’s not forget about my sun sensitive skin.  I have to be pretty well covered and protected from the harmful rays at all hours of the day, especially in the summer.  And those summer months, I am usually busy with Thrill of the Hunt events.  So there you have it, back to fall work in the yard.

What needed done?  The usual, mowing and weeding and trimming, which I have elected to do about once a month now-a-days.  I’m sure my neighbors love that sight.  Actually, they should be thankful, for I make their lawns look perfect!

Last Thursday night, early Friday morning we had one heck of a windstorm roll through.  It resulted in a tree branch taking down a power-line, right down the road from my parents.  Guess what?  I couldn’t work on my company stuff nor my freelancing work, since my “office” is in the corner of their kitchen with my desktop and my external drives.  Don’t worry, I always have something to do.  No free day for me!

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This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

On a side note, I purposely set up my “office” in my parents house, as opposed to my house, to get me out, dressed and moving.  I want to make sure I never get lazy, especially with The Piper Corporation.  So I force myself to travel to my work station.  It’s perfect actually, I have a great view of my Uncle’s farm and a view of Saint Vincent College out looking through the picture window in the kitchen.  The best office space ever!  Plus my office companions aren’t too bad either, Scooby, Seven and Storm.

I recruited Kyle to assist me on Saturday at my house, since my parents were still without electricity.  I took this as a sign from God, telling me to get in the yard and finish it up.  After all I couldn’t work on the computer.

Starting my day as soon as the sun rises, around 6:00 am, Kyle and I went to work.  Yes it was not light duty chores.  It was hauling mulch and river rock, pulling weeds and walking up and down my back steps around my landscaping.  Truly hard work even for a professional landscaper.  So how did Kyle fare?

Well, at first it was a big argument.  He didn’t want to do the mulch and was seriously exaggerating his motions in such a way, I made him carry the river rocks while I took over the mulch job.  I knew I could get it done faster, making better progress than Kyle.  Then, I caught him trying to do the job half way, cutting corners that sort of thing.  I was livid!  There are few things I really truly can’t stand and detest, beside smoking, and that’s laziness.  I just can’t understand making that choice to wimp out, especially on something that is benefiting oneself such as my house.

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My backyard while we were just getting started… before the steps. c. 2009

After about an hour of me loosing my patience, yelling and Kyle dropping his attitude and getting acclimated to the job of the day, he really began to work.  And I mean he worked!  That kid was on fire!  Really after, we got moving and he started to get into a rhythm and saw progress, he was such a hard little worker.  He was even proud of himself saying, “Wow Aunt Heather I think I’m getting stronger with each rock!  Soon I’ll be even better in the weight room!”  What a cutie!  I had to concur with his reasoning, because he was right.  The more work he did, the stronger he was getting.

You see, for the next few weeks Kyle is in the weight room at school for gym class.  They are teaching him how to lift and such.  He seems to really like it.  Kyle even asked me, “Hey Aunt Heather, how much can you do on the leg press?”  Truly not remembering I said, “Probably around 100 pounds or so.  Why how much can you do?”  With a victorious and ornery grin, Kyle responded proudly with “I can leg press 240 pounds!”  Wow!  Holy smokes buddy!  That’s great!  I really was proud of him.  He is a strong little compact bugger!  He said only one other kid did more than him and he did 260 pounds.  Still all very impressive.

With the weight room talk, it gave Kyle another incentive to keep on truck’in.  He was great!  All the way up until it started to rain on us.  I was almost done with the mulch, when I turned around to see my little man with his hoodie up, soaking wet carrying buckets of river rock and looking defeated.  We had to leave soon anyway.  Kyle was serving mass at 6:00 pm that night.  After seeing the look on his face, I said, “Go jump in the shower, we’re done for today.”  Shear joy fell over him.  Not to mention a sense of accomplishment.  Kyle did remark, “Wow Aunt Heather it’s actually looking nice.  We got a lot done!”  Yes we did buddy, especially with all his hard work.

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My backyard while in the progress of landscaping… ton of brush! c. 2009

As it turns out Kyle wasn’t done working, not by a long shot.  You see he had off of school on Monday for an in-service day.  So I took advantage of that fact and asked him to assist me again to try and finish the work once and for all.  Surprisingly, he was enthused to help me wrap up the yard.  That morning, we first helped my dad by stacking some wood before making our way to my dreaded lawn.

On another side note, sometime on Saturday I must have weeded out poison ivy and proceeded to scratch my face and my eye.  Yes my eye!  By Sunday, my face was all swollen, itchy and my eye looked like a big marshmallow.  Not believing in doing actual work on Sundays, I try to honor the Sabbath Day as much as possible, I took a few Benadryl pills and fell into a sleep coma.  By Monday, my eye was even worse and we had to make a pit stop at Med Express to get me on steroids again.  I really hate those things!

Yes, I worked like that with basically one eye since I could only see out of it with a sliver.  I figured, I would rather get in contact with the poison ivy again, now that I was on medication, rather than later when I was healed and had to go through this again.  Plus, I wanted to stay away from people with all my ugliness.  I even avoided the gym in the mornings.  But lucky for Kyle, I had no qualms about hanging around him.  I would even tease my little man by leaning in with my bulging eye and saying, “Go ahead and touch it.  Feel how squishy it is!”  He was grossed out and would squirm around me.  Eventually, we made a joke out of it saying “Don’t make me give you the stink eye.”  And then I would point my eye in his direction.  That cracked us both up! If you can’t laugh at yourself, then what’s the point in living.

While we were talking and working Kyle mentioned again about getting an apartment and buying land to build his house and huge fish tank on.  I said, “O buddy between me and your Aunt Nikki, we will probably have enough rental properties for you to live in so you don’t have to worry about it.”  Kyle took that as a sign that he will take my house.  It’s yours buddy, you earned it through sweat equity!

While wrapping up some of the work on Monday afternoon, Kyle started to comment about hard work and how hard our activity was.  Then, he started to get a bit sarcastic and threw out the attitude again.  He said, “This is suppose to be my day off from school and I’m not suppose to be doing work.”  Really?  Says who.  I retorted with, “What do you think most people do Kyle?  They work all week and do yard work in the evenings and weekends.  Welcome to reality.”  He had nothing to say on that note.

I get it, he was tired and not used to working that hard for that many days in a row.  I completely understood.  But I still won’t tolerate an attitude.

After that came the fury of Aunt Heather.  I asked Kyle to dump a couple of buckets of dirt up by my back fence in a mulch pile of leaves and branches.  Not wanting to walk up the hill, we both kind of laughed at the thought of making another trip there.  Finally, Kyle did what I asked and made the first trip, promising I’ll make the second.

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No this was not in my yard! Me & the boys saw this while on one of our walks… I LOVE IT!!

When I made my trip, to help him out and show he is not doing all the hard work, I noticed he dumped the dirt right in the yard, not even coming close to the pile!  Fiery anger shot out of me and resulted in a lecture on laziness.  I wanted him to understand that he has to train himself now, NOT to be lazy and to NOT take shortcuts, for it will always bite him in the butt in the long run, especially in a professional environment.  I went off explaining how I trusted him to do a job and I expected it to be done right and not to have to redo it.  Then, I went into a tangent about how he doesn’t want the reputation of being a lazy kid.  And so on and so forth.

When teaching a child to NOT be lazy, you’re actually teaching them more than hard work, you’re teaching a sense of worth and self-accomplishment, good foundation structures that I fully believe in to create a solid character.

Okay, granted I was tired too and it was a long few days, plus with all the poison ivy irritating my skin, I’m sure my nerves where just a little bit sensitive.  He felt horrible and kicked it up a notch until he was out of steam.  Seriously, I haven’t seen a kid his age work that hard in forever!  I was really proud of him, and maybe I was a little too hard on my man.  But I wanted to make a point, that it’s not just about my yard.  I am training his character, the man he will hopefully grow to be.  The one I hope him to be, minus any laziness.  And you know what?  I believe he will get there.  It was only at that moment, he was being a kid and a tired human.

Thanks buddy for all your hard work!  You earned every muscle you worked out and you earned both movies and popcorn.

This past weekend I took Kyle to see Thor 2: The Dark World and I believe the second movie of his choice is The Hunger Games – Catching Fire.  I even told him he earned popcorn, which he gave me a victorious smile.  I love paying this kid in movies.  It makes for a well deserved date night.

I never thought to get finished pictures of the yard, so once the snow disappears I will take pictures and do a comparison.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Smallest Moments, Mean the Most

The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.  ~Edgar Allen Poe

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Kyle taking a break from picking grapes… making grape jelly. 9/2/13

A part of loving a child, is really appreciating them for their humor, reasoning, intellect, innocence and for those unplanned, unexplained small moments that really bond adult and child.  At least that’s my opinion.  I mean there are many many more parts to loving a child like discipline, teaching respect, education and so on and so forth.  But if you don’t truly appreciate them for who they are, then there’s a part missing, because like I said, it’s a PART of loving a child.

I love all aspects, well maybe not the disciplining them, but it goes with the territory.  Recently, the small moments part really revealed itself to me through Kyle.  My last blog touched on it, Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond, but there’s been more!  I’m sure these small moments happen at a higher rate than I can see them.  Let’s face it with running around checking off my task list and getting caught up in the pace of the day, I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’m aware.  In my eyes, that’s fine as long as I catch and glimpse every now and again.

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Storm had a blast playing with us while we picked grapes! 9/2/13

Last Sunday Kyle was at my house, winding down for the day.  Lately, I’ve been struggling with Kyle regarding his reading.  He loves to read, but this summer he hasn’t found much interest to get lost in the books.  Now that school has started up, I thought he would get back to his routine and pick up where he left off.  Nope.  At least not just yet.

While sitting in the living-room Kyle got up and walked over to one of my bookshelves to examine the spines of the books.  Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing like the feel and the smell of an actual book, where you can turn the pages, makes notes in the margins, smudge up the pages with food and drink to later rediscover yours or someone’s past.  There’s nothing wrong with digital books, I think they are great for traveling and such, but I still have an affinity for the real deal.  The words on my pages and cover design will never change, unlike its digital sister.

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Storm getting ready to climb the grape harbor…Kyle was picking grapes to the left. 9/2/13

Anyway, Kyle started to read the titles and question me about them.  He saw the Mortal Instrument series and stopped and noted The City of Bones.  We just saw that movie and now his interest was peeked, asking me which books are good.  I love going through my past reads, introducing my old friends to my nephew.  Then, he stopped at The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  For some reason over the years those books keep catching his eye.  They are the old plain covers with a small symbol on each in muted solid colors.  Nothing flashy, yet intriguing to him.  Personally, I loved those books, immensely and I told Kyle so.  Of course, I had to sadly inform him they are more adult oriented and very violent, but really good reads.  He just nodded and continued perusing, until he came on an old book with a red cover entitle Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Kyle reaching to pick the grapes.. thinking grape jelly! 9/2/13

I’ve never seen another book with this cover, in fact I know it used to be a part of a larger collection of classic writers, but I have no idea what happened to the rest of the compilation.  Somehow Mr. Poe has been following me over the years, hanging out on my bookshelf.  It contains short stories, poems and essays.  I’ve read through the entire book several times, but I can’t say in the past decade.  During high school and college I would pull out stories and poems for a class project, but I haven’t sat and enjoyed his works in quite some time.

With a huge smile, I introduced Kyle to Edgar Allen Poe.  I said, “Here buddy let me read you a few poems.  Gigi used to read some of them to me when I was little and I loved them!”  I opened up the aged pages and the first poem I saw was The Raven.  Every time I think of that poem, the move The Crow starring Brandon Lee, the son of the famous Bruce Lee, comes to mind.  Recapping the movie to Kyle, I dove right into the poem, since he didn’t seem to have a clue what I was talking about, nor did he care.  When reading poetry, it’s so much fun to keep the rhythm and enunciate the words with gusto, to truly paint the picture.  I must say I am pretty good at it, at least enough to capture some of Kyle’s attention.

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Seven & Storm hanging out under the grape harbor. 9/2/13

After The Raven I moved onto mom’s favorite, Bells.  Kyle listened, but I could tell he wasn’t too into it.  He even said, “All I heard out of that was Bells.  Bells, bells, bells, the ringing of the bells.”  I laughed and said, “See!  You enjoyed it and even started to memorize it!”  I must say I was quite entertained and was loving the time, maybe not as much as Kyle, but I do believe he will remember it, just like I remember the first time I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe.

I think I really lost him sometime around A Dream Within A Dream.  Asking Kyle if I could read him a short story, he quickly said “No!”.  I was really getting into this walk down memory lane and reading to Kyle once again.  So that was a major disappointment.  I’m not sure if it was the way I was projecting the poems, the idea of poetry or if the kind-of-creepy content threw Kyle over the edge.  Yes, Bells is rather upbeat and cheery, yet it has the creepy dead thing about the content.  Kyle hates suspense, thrillers or anything remotely scarey and disturbing.  I’m sure he picked up on it, especially from The Raven.  Note to self, maybe I should pick another classic to introduce to Kyle.  Regardless, I enjoyed our small moments of togetherness and having the opportunity to read to Kyle again.

Putting the book aside to turn on the stove, Kyle and I had a great time on Labor Day making grape jelly.  It was the day after we got back from our New York trip, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand and What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued.  Before we left, dad mentioned the grapes were ready to pick.  So on Monday, Kyle had it in his head that he wanted to pick grapes.  Not really on my list of desirableness, but I thought what the heck, I was just sitting around anyway.

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Storm kept pouncing on our hands while we picked the grapes. 9/2/13

We actually had a great time.  It was nice and peaceful, except the two of us chit chatting occasionally.  Seven and Scooby came out to join us and run around, as did Storm.  She had a blast, running up and down the grape harbor, creeping among the leaves to pounce on our hands as we reached for grape bunches above our heads.  It turned out to be a nice time full of accomplishments.  We ended up with five or six brown grocery bags full of grapes.

Now what to do with them?  Initially, Kyle wanted to make grape juice, except we still had grape juice from years ago we never drank.  So we agreed upon grape jelly.  We only made a few batches and gave the rest of the grapes to my cousin Karen for her crew to use up.

It was a fun day in the kitchen, even though my mom would probably disagree.  I love knowing that Kyle is exposed to traditions, especially canning.  He was even getting creative by substituting the sugar for honey.   He was very proud of himself, as was I.  It turned out to be another unplanned time to bond, and for that I am very thankful and blessed.

You can’t plan these small moments, just realize when they are present and soak them up like the sun, for they’ll disappear before you know it, like grape jelly.

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day

Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.  ~Hermann Hesse

WannaBe-80s-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event in Shadyside. Great time! 8/17/13

This past Saturday proved to hold an exciting day!  My sister was on her way home with a new bundle of puppy.  The very same day, my company, Thrill of the Hunt, was holding another scavenger hunt event in Shadyside, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, called the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt.  Not to mention a big day wouldn’t be complete without a little attitude and whining from Kyle.

Let’s start in the early afternoon with the arrival of Avery Piper.  This 20 pound cute playful puppy really turned the house inside out.  Scooby, being a grumpy old man was not too pleased to have the rambunctious visitor.  He was growling and nipping and just plain being a bully.  Pretty much everything we expected out of Scooby.  Seven on the other hand was curious and almost excited to have a new friend.  Maybe he remembered how hard it was to be the new doggie on the block.  Seven had to deal with Scooby solo and maybe Seven just wanted to be a mentor, a friend to Avery.

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Nicole hanging with Avery! Don’t let her cute looks fool you! She’s a stinker! 8/17/13

Then let’s discuss, Storm, my cat.  She is a year old and is not very friendly with other people, strange places and certainly not puppies.  She was clearly the one who was the most upset.  She sat up in her perch (This is a tree house type of structure I built for her.  It stands about six feet tall and is equipped with multilevel sitting areas and carpeting.  It’s a place for her to escape the dogs.) and puffed up till she resembled a soft fluffy ball of cat.  She was hissing, and growling, and spitting and swatting her razor sharp claws (I can attest to that!) at the completely ignorant puppy.  Did I mention, as far as we know, Avery has never seen a cat before?  So this was a real treat for her.  Her Avery, not her Storm.

Avery, a.k.a. Acorn (yes I already gave her another name to instigate my sister!) was just so happy to be hanging with all of us and truly didn’t understand the disdain of Storm and Scooby.  She was jumping on the furniture and wanting to play like it was a big party.  Even though I did soak up the playful energy projected from this short haired, pig tailed eared, clumsy, teething youngster, I was still concerned for the stress levels of my Storm.

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My perfect little Thrill of the Hunt assistant! He is a great businessman & he worked at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event. 8/17/13

While all this was going on, Kyle and I needed to get ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside.  It started at 3:30 pm, which means we needed to be there between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm to set up, sell any last minute tickets and hand out brochures to continue to get our name out there.  Not to mention it takes at least an hour from Latrobe to get to Pittsburgh, depending on the traffic.

Kyle and I had the car packed and everything ready.  I am not a procrastinator, I figure why give myself added stress that I can control, when there is always something unforeseen or uncontrollable that inevitably pops up.  That’s enough excitement for me, so that’s why Kyle and I packed the car and ran through our checklist the night prior.  We also went through the same list one last time before heading out, to cross our T’s and dot our i’s.

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Pap & Avery taking a nap together! 8/17/13

God has really blessed us in our new adventure.  I mean it.  Recently, Thrill of the Hunt has been commissioned to develop and administer the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for Seton Hill University, the Pittsburgh Marathon is having Thrill of the Hunt build a scavenger hunt for the race expo, Exploring Inspiration Scavenger Hunt and for their 10k, 5k, Pet Walk in North Park this October, Witches Brew Scavenger Hunt.  Did I mention thus far, for all of our scavenger hunt events we’ve had perfect weather?  Yes!  I know the weather will never cooperate one hundred percent, but to start out and get acclimated to our scavenger hunt events, it certainly does help.

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I’m ready to get the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt on the way! We had a perfect day! 8/17/13

The WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt went off without a hitch!  It’s funny, Kyle was being such a kid during the day, wanted everyone to play his card game and wanted to sit on his iPod and play games and not practice his piano or read his Lord of the Rings The Two Towers book, yet when he was in the car with me and most certainly when we got to Shadyside to set up, Kyle changed his tune quickly, without being asked.  Kyle didn’t complain one bit, he went right to work helping to set up and he even started reaching out the pedestrians supplying them with brochures.  He was supporting Thrill of the Hunt in best possible manner.  When he met with people, he shook their hands confidently and truly was the perfect assistant!  I don’t know if Kyle likes the work, enjoys being part of the company or is just innately aware I would kick his butt if he misbehaved.  But he was a great business partner and the perfect assistant!

Kyle & Aunt Heather Piper TextingEither way, as like most times hanging with Kyle, we had a great time!  I try to be very approachable and friendly to potential clients when I’m representing Thrill of the Hunt.  I stand by my station ready to answer inquisitive looks and comments as those unknown to Thrill of the Hunt walk by.  Yes, I stand for the hours it takes to complete the scavenger hunts, unlike Kyle.  One of his weaknesses.  To keep his body from complete shock, I had him stand with me in little spurts before he would retreat to his bench to sit and relax.  I’m fine with that, for now!

Kyle cracked me up!  During the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt, the participants not only had to figure out the riddles, but they had online challenges to execute as well.  I also had to review the online activity to see if anyone was stumped or questioning a specific clue.  Yes, so while I was greeting “passerbyers”, I was also following the online activity.  During all this, Kyle was texting my sister to see the status of the mad house back home.  Then, to throw me off my concentration, Kyle began to send me funny text messages, like asking if my legs were tired and calling me a Bad Girl (inside joke within our family due to the labeling on the butt of my sisters underwear).  Kyle was cracking me up!

Side story.  The last time I was down at my sisters, we were commissioned to develop and administer to the Discover Scavenger Hunt for a five year old birthday party.  That Friday night, after I got in, I came around the corner to ask Nicole something, while she was in the kitchen and what did my eyes read?  Yep, Bad Girl written across her underwear as she stood at the sink.  Immediately, I lost it!  I could barely say, “Bad Girl” when Nicole instantly busted out laughing, while running to the bathroom.  She was laughing so hard she had to pee!  Now I couldn’t just let something like that only be shared between the two of us, so I told my family.  Mom, died laughing!  Even dad got a chuckle out of it.  But Kyle thought it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard.  Since then, everyone once in a while we just say, “Bad Girl!”.  It cracks us all up!  Especially Kyle, who loves being in on the inside joke.

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Me & Kyle promoting Thrill of the Hunt & getting ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside, Pittsburgh Pa. 8/17/13

Well, the feedback from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt participants were very positive.  I didn’t have a huge turnout, but enough to make the event fun.  It seems like I can’t give the tickets away for my scavenge hunt events lately, at least at present day.  Although I have a feeling, that comment will be just unbelievable and silly in the future.  Especially, when it catches on that these themed scavenger hunts are challenging, interactive and just plain fun!  Not to mention, my scavenger hunts also help to support and promote small communities and local merchants.  Win, win for everyone!

When we got back to the house, it was still standing and everyone learned to calm down a bit.  Kyle was back to being my fun little man again, especially after I was praising him for his help and behavior.  We celebrated with Primanti Brothers sandwiches and we rented The Burbs.  Perfect evening to a crazy day!

Please vote for Thrill of the Hunt!  We have a chance to win a commercial during the Superbowl!  We need all the votes!  Everyone can vote daily, so keep them coming!!

VOTE HERE!  Thrill of the Hunt

 

Check out the pictures / videos from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt from our Gallery page, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube!

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posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Dog Gone Irony!

My little dog
a heart-beat
at my feet  ~Edith Wharton

Missing-Dog-Poster-Aunt-Heather-PiperThey always say when it rains it pours.  Sometimes that’s the case, it certainly was this past weekend, starting Friday morning.

Let me set the stage.  I’ve been developing and organizing the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt all month, getting ready to launch our first Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt event in Shadyside.  So if you can image, there’s a lot of details and last minute items that need addressed.  All week I was unable to take the dogs, Scooby and Seven, for their daily three mile hike.  That’s my normal lunch break now-a-days.  Plus, keep in mind, Kyle was at his Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College.  My lunches were consumed with Kyle, going to pick him up, getting him lunch and taking him back for his afternoon sessions.  Then, the rest of my day and evenings, I was consumed with plugging away at the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Busy, busy, busy week.

Then, Friday morning rolled around.  Naturally, I was up early with my head in my work, trying to wrap some items up before having to drop Kyle off at his Lego Camp.  I knew I had to make a trip to Shadyside and meet with the participating business owners before the work day ended, and I had to send brochures to the printers, pick them up and assemble all the Thrill of the Hunt bags for the participants before the day came to a close.  Needless to say, there was a lot on my mind and I was completely pre-occupied.  I’m not making excuses, just outlining the events of the day.

Roughly around 7:00 am, mom emailed me telling me to change Seven’s tracker, the battery was really low.  We use Tagg, which is a great service for tracking our freedom seeking dogs.  Only keeping a tracker on Seven, we’ve found that the buddies travel together so no need to weigh Scooby down.  My response to mom’s email?  “I don’t have time and I’m not planning on taking the dogs for a walk today, I have too much to do!”  Mistake number one!  Then around 7:30 am, Kyle was playing with my cat, Storm, on the porch and he had the front door wide open, without putting up the baby gate.  I was also going back and forth to my car loading it up with needed Thrill of the Hunt paraphernalia.

Then by 8:00 am, we both noticed we were two dogs short!  Around that time, I had to hurry up and update the Piper Reunion postcard and send it to press, since that was sneaking up on us; my friend Holly wanted to run hills and was calling; and mom called to ask me to bring her a large bowl to work.   Yikes!  Too much to do!  Not to mention I had to get Kyle over to his last day of Lego camp by 8:30 am and now the boys are missing.

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Seven & Scooby getting some rest after the rescue mission was a success! Poor Seven still had those porcupine quills in his face. Tired pups after 3 days missing. 6/30/13

Right around this very hectic time, mom emailed me giving me the update on the already known missing dogs.  She saw his last check-in was in Ridilliatown, not far from our house, but his tracker died so we really had no idea where their actual whereabouts were.  My response?  They’ll come back.  Did I mention this was when I was in route, between Saint Vincent, to Latrobe and mom’s work?

You see the dogs have a track record of taking off, running through the woods for a few hours and then making their way back home after they are good and tired and completely muddy (Dog Gone).  So who would have thought they would have deviated off of the norm?  Certainly none of us did!  In fact, we thought they would show up on the porch before dark, ready to sit out there punishment under the kitchen table.  That’s were they go when they’re in trouble.  The thinner, crappy doggie beds reside under there, making them really suffer their punishments out. (sarcasm)

Well, needless to say nightfall came and left and no signs of the dogs!  I woke up Saturday morning around 5:00 am to get ready for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt to find the house still a little empty.  I hate to say it, but when I talked to mom, who incidentally slept on the couch so she could hear are late night arrivals, I said, “I bet someone shot them!”  Mom agreed.  I know what a horrible thought!  I didn’t say I wanted that to happen, I was just trying to be realistic and prepare myself for the worst.  That’s what happened to my cousin’s dog when we were little, it was terrible!  Jack the dog, came back with half of his jaw shot off!

Speaking of shooting dogs.  That might sound like an over active imagination and not a present day reality, guess again!  When we were going around to the local neighbors where the dogs were once spotted, a lady told us that someone in Youngstown, near Latrobe Pennsylvania is known to shoot stray dogs.  She said they shot one before and wounded another!  Can you believe it?  I understand dog owners have to be in control of their dog at all times, but come on, things happen.  There is no reason to shoot a dog!  Maybe if it was bringing direct harm to another animal or person, sure for self defense, but just because they are loose and running around?  Even if they were on your property, shoo them away!  Don’t just shoot them!  What is wrong with some people?  Apparently, they have no heart and we need to say prayers for them.

Wishing I could have stayed to help with the rescue mission Saturday morning, Kyle and I headed into Pittsburgh for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Before I left I had time to make a missing poster and I distributed it to my social sites far and wide.  While we were in Shadyside, the irony of the situation hit me!  I was running a scavenger hunt for dogs, when ours ran away and were lost, called Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Not funny at the time, but has brought new humor.

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My poor Seven. Did he put his face directly up a porcupine’s butt? At least he’s home! 6/30/13

The scavenger hunt went really smoothly and was well received by all the participants and business owners.  During the hunt, besides reaching out to our participants via social sites along with my sister, we were  also helping to spread the word, on our very own missing four legged pals.  I was taking calls, and checking Facebook, keeping in touch with my friend Tree who was following up on leads and touching base with my family.  Talk about a lot going on!

As soon as I got back to the area, I joined the search and rescue team.  Getting in the car with mom, we rechecked the the last areas the dogs were spotted, and a few areas we thought they might have gone through.  What made this so difficult was the location of our runaways.  They were running through mostly woods, even worse, mostly unfamiliar woods to me, making their appearance every now-and-again near someones house or a main road.  Even though it was extremely frustrating, each report brought a bit of hope.  At the start of this all, the last place we knew the dogs were located in Ridilliatown, early Friday morning.  Keep in mind it is now Saturday afternoon.

The sightings included:  Someone saw them together off of route 30 near Sleepy Hallow at 6:00 pm on Friday.  Someone saw them near Kingston on Friday around 5:30 pm.  Someone almost hit them with their car off of route 30 near Ligonier around 6:30 pm on Friday.  What?  How did they make it that far coming from Youngstown?

Well, later on Sunday when I hiked the woods in that area, I found out it didn’t take me long to cross the ridges through the woods, only traveling about four miles.  Piece of cake for a couple of four legged travelers.

Then God gave us another bit of hope, Dave Planinsek saw them off his property Saturday morning around 6:15 am.  Great!  They made the night.  He did say it looked like the black one, Seven was foaming at the mouth.  That would explain why the others who spotted our pups said the one looked like he had porcupine quills in his mouth.  My poor Seven!

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Seven in the car after we found him, he was lost for 3 days & apparently met a porcupine on the his travels. 6/30/13

Saturday night was fast approaching and nothing, no sign, no word.  I even walked back in unfamiliar woods of Sugarbush, calling the entire mile in and mile out.  Once darkness completely took away my sense of sight, I reluctantly left the woods.  I will admit, it was pitch black and I had about three quarters of a mile to go just to get out of the woods and meet up with dad, who was on the quad.

We arrived at my parents house Saturday night, feeling completely defeated!  Especially knowing the dogs were going to have to spend another night in the woods and knowing that Seven was hurt and possibly Scooby.

That did it!  I had a new game plan.  I woke up early Sunday morning, we went to church the night before because Kyle had to serve mass, and packed my book bag.  I was going to hike all the woods in the area to try and find them.  Our logic, since no one had seen them since Saturday morning, they were hanging out in the woods.  They were injured, tired, hungry, scared and lost.

I packed up my .22 pistol, some food and water, first aide kit and a few other essentials.  I made sure my phone was completely charged so I could check my location on my GPS.  Mom was nervous since I have a track record of getting lost, (Directionally Challenged) but I had no qualms about walking around the woods.  I knew I’d pop out somewhere.  To play it safe, as long as my phone was on, Kyle could find me on Find Friends apps.  Not to mention I was using my RunKeeper app, which Tree and mom had my login information to track my last checked in status.

Breaking some of my RunKeeper records I continued on foot, while dad was on the quad and mom and Kyle were in the car driving around and checking with neighbors and putting up more posters.

This went on for hours on Sunday, it seemed like a lifetime.  When I would make my way to a main road, I would have mom and Kyle come and get me, to drop me off closer to start again.  By Sunday at 1:30 pm, I was with mom and Kyle in the car.  We decided to call dad to see how his progress was going.  When mom was talking to dad trying to outline our next plan of attack, possibly take a break for the time being, dad spotted Scooby!  We were in complete shock!  He called Scooby, and after Scooby recognized dad, he came running over to the quad, leaping up in his lap.  All dad was saying was, “Bring the car around and get him!”  I said, “Where are you?”  His vague reply was, “By the woods.”  Really?  Is this a joke?  “What woods?” I said.  Again, vaguely dad replied, “The ones we were by last night.”  Really?  Again, we were all over the ridge on Saturday.

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Scooby just woke up from hours of sleep after being lost for 3 days. He was looking for his buddy who still was not found at this point. 6/30/13

Trying to get dad’s exact location proved to be as difficult as trying to find the dogs because he just wanted to talk to Scooby.  He was even asking our blond pal where his pal Seven was.

Once we picked up Scooby, who had a few porcupine quills in his face, that I plucked out, Scooby fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Then back we went to track down number two doggie delinquent.  Apparently, the one house saw them, just before dad got to their house while he was on the quad, and they tried to call the dogs over.  Scooby came to our good Samaritans, (to my complete surprise)  but Seven was scared and took off (even more of a shock, I thought the opposite).  Now for the first time in days, the dogs are separated.

We looked and looked, to no avail.  Finally, as we were ready to make another pass at the ridge in the car, we got a call from the same house who found Scooby.  Seven was in their yard!  Mom drove like lightening to get there.  Once I saw my obviously distraught, disoriented and in pain pup, I welcomed him with open arms.  He reluctantly came to me, but eventually made his way into the car, for our ride home.

Seven and Scooby are safe back home!  Seven spent Monday at the vets getting those darn porcupine needles out of his face.  I was going to try and remove them like I did once for Scooby (Scooby Meets a Porcupine), but Scooby’s weren’t in for three days.  Seven was also really dehydrated and starving.  I thought it be best to wait out the night and take Seven to the vet first thing in the am.  They weighed him and it seems he lost nearly ten pounds!  Poor pup couldn’t eat or drink or even sleep for that matter, for three days.

Missing-Dog-Poster-Found-Aunt-Heather-Piper.psdThe boys were gone from Friday at 7:30 am and Scooby was brought home around Sunday at 2:00 pm, while Seven didn’t make it home till Sunday at 8:00 pm.  He also had to endure another night with the quills in his face before we could take him to the vet on Monday at 8:30 am.  He’s still not quite himself, but he is coming around, at least physically.  Scooby’s really stiff and his paw is proving to be hard to walk on, but he bounced right back.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to call in the sightings of the dogs, and those that tried to help completely strange dogs and unknowns owners!   Your efforts made the world of difference!

While everyone was extremely helpful, I want to give a big thanks to specific people.  One being my friend Tree.  She gave me all the updates of the reported sightings, posted on Action for Animals Facebook, responded back to posts and inquiries, tracked me as I walked through the woods so I didn’t get lost, sent us phone numbers and helped to remind me to keep the faith and reach out to my inner Wonder Woman!  Thanks Tree, you rock!  She was saying prayers and asking for Saint Francis and Saint Anthony to pray for us too.  Then there was mom’s friend Mary, who called all the police departments, local and state and reached out to specific key individuals in the area to spread the word and retrieve updates.  All of the Planinsek’s were most certainly helpful and patient with us driving around their property yelling for our delinquents, and walking and driving our quad through their woods.  The Seminsky’s went out riding around looking for beasts.  Renee Yazvec Hall’s husband and son drove around after seeing the posts on Renee’s Facebook page.  They also offered their services if we needed them, and truly meant it!  And not to mention the fellows from Frowen’s garage went looking with trucks and quads.  Thanks everyone, and those who I did not mention, some taking it upon yourselves to make calls and assist.  Thank you!

Although everyone in the surrounding areas were more than helpful, a big kudos goes to PJ Self and his family.  That young man, saw the dogs and let us know.  Then joined our rescue team on foot and ran through the woods and made a huge circle to look for Seven.  He actually ran.  Seriously, I mean he actually ran!  He even kicked up some deer, I saw them leaping like gazelles through Steiner’s field, while PJ ran along the tree line, miles from his house!  We never asked, he just wanted to help out.  Thank you so very  much!

Thinking about it now, I wonder if our boys learned a lesson?  Somehow I doubt it!  But for now they are safe and sound!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Squirrel!

You can’t be friends with a squirrel!  A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.  ~Sarah Jessica Parker

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Kyle tripped over an animal carcass while walking to our next location to squirrel hunt with dad. He splattered in the snow. 2/16/13

This past Saturday, me, dad and Kyle participated in a squirrel hunt contest, hosted by Gutchess Hardwoods, mom’s work.  Everyone had two or three people to a team.  It started at daybreak and ended at 3:00 pm.  Since it’s small game season, they assigned points for the legal animals in addition to squirrel, after all it was a squirrel hunt.  We received a list of our legal targets such as coyote, crow, pheasant, rabbit and naturally squirrel, along with a point system for each.  You were docked if you shot a red squirrel.  Raccoon and fox were also on the list but I refuse to shoot either.  I don’t know who came up with the list or the point system, but both needed to be reevaluated.

I’ve only ever seen a fox once in my life, and believe it or not, it ran across the road in front of me a few months ago near my parents house.  So cool!  I felt blessed and privileged to see this miniature dog-like beast scurry past me.  Since I haven’t seen many foxes, actually only that one, and let’s face it my love for raccoons Raccoon or Cat? is an instant protector of the fury nocturnal bandits, both critters didn’t make my list of small game to shoot.  On a side note, I do want to state a fact.  If a sick animal, of any kind approaches me or my family, even a raccoon, I wouldn’t think twice about putting it down.  I told Kyle about my adjusted list and he gave me the orneriest look and said, “I’m shooting them Aunt Heather!  They are worth more points.”  I told him I’m doing it on principle.  One, “I like those animals and I don’t want to shoot them”; two “We weren’t planning on eating them, unlike the squirrels so I see no point in killing them”; and three “I’m your Aunt and you have to live with me if you do shoot them.”  With that I gave him a very unsure smile, half serious and half joking.  Turning the conversation quickly to his side, Kyle said, “Pap pap is planning on shooting them.”  I smiled and confirmed his thoughts by saying, “Yes, pappy does what he wants.”  And with that the discussion was over.

The night before we gathered up our cloths, rifles and .22 bullets, so the morning would run smoothly.  Dad let me use Ryan’s .22, while Kyle picked his semiautomatic, with what seemed like an endless clip.  I asked him, “Are you planning on turning our small game into Swiss cheese?”  He just laughed.  It’s always exciting getting ready for a day of hunting, it really is!  Even when I was younger, before I could hunt, watching mom gather dad’s stuff in preparation for the following day was exhilarating.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of what might happen and what creatures will make themselves known.

Throughout the evening Kyle kept saying, “Squirrel”.  He was cracking me up!  That was taken from the Disney movie Up.  We would be packing my trusty backpack with provisions like a Thermos of water, crackers, apples and such and Kyle would just throw out there, squirrel!  We became Thing 1 and Thing 2 echoing the word, squirrel every-now-and-again.  I don’t think anybody else got our humor.

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Kyle enjoying a fall day with his pap on the quad. 11/18/03

The next morning didn’t move as swiftly as I’d like.  Dad is slowing up in his old age.  He used to be dressed, fed, at his location,  and ready and waiting for the action, even before sunrise.  Not so much now-a-days, but he’s still faster than Kyle, just not what he used to be.  Right before we headed out I let the boys run around in the snow.  I swear they saw the guns and saw us getting layered up for the cold, and knew they weren’t invited.  So Scooby and Seven took it upon themselves to go for their own walk.  I’m guessing they were mad at me for not taking them on their hike the week prior.  So this little hiccup delayed us because dad had to leave on the quad and go and track down the bad dogs.

As dad was playing bounty hunter, Kyle and I headed up the woods in dad’s direction.  Would you believe Kyle complained the entire way up the hill?  Yep!  He didn’t want to wear his bibs, or his hat, or a T-shirt under his bibs (he wanted to go bare chested), or warm socks, or gloves and he certainly didn’t want to walk with all the clothing on while holding his own .22.  That’s our Kyle, it wouldn’t be a day without some sort of complaining about clothing or walking.  I will admit, he was sweating under his gear, which is not good when it’s cold out, but he needs to learn to layer when needed and strip down when he’s hot, preferably without whining.  If it was up to him, he would have left in the snow with a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops.  Not on my watch, when it was clearly freezing outside.

We reached the top of the hill and made ourselves a spot on a rock.  It was such a pretty day!  The snow fell all night long and covered everything with fresh fluffy snow, like the ground and trees were covered in cotton balls.  Since the weather moved in, all the animals hunkered down in the morning and weren’t moving around, not good for hunting, but very peaceful.  Dad said he saw coyote tracks and deer tracks, but no squirrel.  In addition to the woodpecker we heard, Kyle and I heard a crow in the distance but nothing within visibility.

Eventually we walked down the road near the cabin.  To create a little adventure and to follow the dogs tracks, Kyle and I followed the power line right away down to our location.  Along the way, Kyle tripped and splattered down the hill in the powder.  I turned around and saw him flattened on the ground, partially covered in snow.  His rifle flew out of his hand and landed a foot away from him.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  At first, I started laughing, especially when Kyle lifted his snow covered, bright red faced, black dog hat wearing head up at me.  After I helped him out of the snow and shook most of the cold fluff from his limbs, I noticed an object surfaced from the ground.  Kyle tripped over a carcass of some small animal.  Really?  I just walked through there and managed to make it without raising the dead.  Not Kyle.  Once I pointed out the ribcage, Kyle joined in on my laughter.

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Kyle after he pulled himself out of the snow. He loves that .22. 2/16/13

Then, you think Kyle got it out of his system, but nope.  After the three of us sat in the woods near a tree holding squirrels nests and saw nothing, we decided to head back home.  Dad was on the quad and Kyle and I were on foot, well at least for a little while.  In middle of the path there was a huge branch off to the side.  I get it when the objects are camouflaged by the snow, but when they are clearly visible there is no reason to trip over them.  Apparently, Kyle didn’t get the memo because the next thing I knew, he splattered all over the ground again.  Really?  Yep!  At this time, I lost it.  I was between seriously expressing my amusement and my amazement.  Walking right beside Kyle, I was laughing all the way down the hill, that is until Kyle realized he lost his small clip.  Yes the child has a small clip that same with the gun and a larger one courtesy of his pappy. Kyle, clearly upset over this discovery stated, with absolute certainty that the clip used to be tucked away in his pocket.

After we backtracked, and by the grace of God found the clip, we headed back to the house again.  This time we decided to cut down through the woods to pop out onto our neighbors driveway.  Would you believe just as we approached the clearing, Kyle did it again?  Yes!  He fell again!  To be honest, at this point I’m glad we had a few inches of fresh power to break his falls.  If not, that kid would have been pretty bruised and possibly bloody.  I turned to Kyle and said, “Buddy, what is wrong with you?  First day with the new feet?  I have never seen someone fall as many times as you have in one day, let along one morning!”  Kyle seemed to be accustomed to his consistency of gravity taking hold of him because he just started laughing and laughing.  At least he was amusing himself!  To really make light of the situation I said, “What are you trying to wrestle the squirrels?”

We giggled over Kyle’s actions all the way to the paved road.  Then it dawned on me that this is a recipe for disaster.  Trying to give fair warning, I commented “Kyle you better be careful on the road, if you fall again, it’s really going to hurt.”  Kyle considered this and said nothing.

We made it back to the house and enjoyed the rest of the day inside.  I really had a lot of fun, even though there wasn’t any movement.  It’s nice sometimes to just get out in the fresh, crisp air and enjoy the silence and beauty God gave us.

Eventually around 1:00 pm, our neighbor called and said Seven and Scooby was hanging around his house.  Yep those dogs were running from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.  I took the quad up the road and had them follow me back, into the punishment of mom.  Needless to day, they spent most of the day under the kitchen table being punished for their rebellion.  Maybe if they could say ‘squirrel’ there scolding wouldn’t have been so harsh.  Perhaps next time I’ll prep them a little better.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets and have No Comments

Breaking News…Pudd’in Concedes – Dogs Wage War…

When most of us talk to our dogs, we tend to forget they’re not people.  ~Julia Glass

Puddin-Concedes-Aunt-Heather-PiperGiving an update to the war that was raging in the Piper household, I am happy to announce it has since subsided.  Pudd’in has thrown up the white flag and has been behaving herself, as is dad.  However, as history has always told us, it’s not long before another war breaks out.  This time it’s dogs waging war.

Scooby vs Pudd’in, well not Pudd’in per se but Pudd’in’s lifeline, her food and Scooby and Seven against mom and dad.  Ok, it’s not full blown war like we’ve seen with dad and Pudd’in but it’s certainly well played sneak attacks.  Let me step back about five or six years ago when we got Scooby.  He was a tiny little puppy that Kyle held on his lap and brought him home.  Scooby has never known a time without us.  Needless to say, over the years he has picked up certain eating habits from my parents.  Basically eating anything he wanted, when he wanted, which he did a lot of.  Now jump to a year ago when we rescued Seven from the pound.  Unfortunately, he had two sets of families that returned him back to the pound before making his way straight into the hearts of the Piper’s.  He was a year old.  Seven, as far as we can tell has only had dog food.  On a side note, I have never, in the 17 years I’ve had Pudd’in, given her anything but cat food and water.  Anyway, over the most recent year my parents tried to ease Seven into their eating habits just as Scooby has always eaten.  As it turns out Seven has a sensitive digestive system and he can’t handle different foods.  Actually, mom found out that the Dad’s brand dog food has been agreeing with him the best.

Great!  Problem solved, well no, it started another problem.  Since Seven couldn’t eat scraps from the table, mom and dad felt it’s not fair to give one dog and not the other.  Over the last few months they’ve really reinforced this rule in the house and reiterated it to me and Kyle.  So new rule, don’t give the dogs food scraps!  Check!  No food scraps to either dog and as I’ve mentioned, Pudd’in never received any anyway.  Seven, didn’t seem to know the difference, but Scooby on the other hand is taking this quite personal.

Scooby-Who-Me-Aunt-Heather-PiperA few weeks ago mom told me she made dad fish with veggies for dinner.  She set the plate of food on the table while dad took a shower.  When dad came out, the plate was cleared, however he didn’t notice the cleared plate of missing food.  I guess dad sat there for a while, then asked mom where the dinner was?  Mom responded, ‘You ate it.’ followed by dad saying ‘No I didn’t, I didn’t eat anything.’  Mom said, ‘Ron, I made you fish and vegetables, where’s it at?’  At that moment those two, who probably looked like a skit from Abbott and Costello discussing Who’s On First?, realized there was a thief among them!  All they had to do was ask, ‘Who ate pap pap’s food?’ and the guilty party walked right into his cage.  So you see, Scooby decided he wanted to eat what dad was eating, throwing a good old fashioned temper tantrum.  Scooby is basically telling my parents, you are not cutting me off of food just because of the new addition.

It gets even better, Scooby’s blatten defiance doesn’t end there.  He is now showing his discontent through an easier innocent source.  Pudd’in’s cat food!  Since Pudd’in has a heart condition and she burns so many calories, we are having a hard time keeping weight on her.  She acts very healthy and happy with long strong whiskers, shiny soft coat, and a playful demeanor, however she is very anorexic looking.  In order to help Pudd’in keep some weight on, we have her on a special indoor high calorie formula.  Well, apparently Scooby is in on the same special diet, because recently, mom and dad have been busting him, sneaking to the back room where Pudd’in’s food resides and dibing into the bowl.  Mom made a comment not long ago to get more cat food for Pudd’in.  I thought that was odd since she is only a six pound kitty and I just got her cat food.  I shrugged it off thinking it was longer than I realized, no biggie.  Then I heard the news.  At that moment my eyes opened and as I compared the dogs, Scooby is noticeably thicker in the middle than he was before.  I guess the high calorie kitty food is doing it’s job.  Just on the wrong animal.

A weekend or so ago, mom made dad eggs and toast for breakfast.  As she buttered the toast on the counter and walked away, apparently Seven decided to takes Scooby’s lead and help himself to a slice of toast.  I asked mom, how do you know it was Seven. Mom’s reply, “Because Scooby was in the living-room and when I came out in the kitchen Seven was licking his lips.” Ummm

Just like children, the boys don’t realize we are trying to help them and not limit them.  It’s for their own health.  Well, I guess there’s another war raging in the Piper household.

Read more on the wars in the Piper household.

Pudd’in vs Dad – A New Kind of War

Pudd’in vs Dad vs Kiwis – War Continues…

Puppy Problem Called Seven!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets and have Comments (2)
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