Happy Holidays!

The Brains Behind Twenty Paws Publishing

Meet five fabulous critters!

Name: Athena
Age: 15
Place of Birth: South Bend, Indiana

You look like a black lab. Am I right?

Actually, I’ve been told I am a mixture of black lab and English setter.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to patrol the yard. Lots of pesky squirrels hang out in the trees nearby. And when I’m not patrolling, I like to sit and observe any goings-on. You never know when a rabbit might wander inside the fence.

Do you have a tip on how to train the people you live with?

Sure, just choose one thing and stick with it. In my case, I have perfected a “whine.” I vary the tone and pitch and volume. And sometimes I vary it with my version of “talking.” This technique is guaranteed to get their attention, and at least one of them actually rubs my head.

What the point of the whining?

Ah, it depends. I like to go outside several times a day just to walk around, and I moan and groan and before you know it the door is opened and mission accomplished. The head lady likes to make oatmeal, and she lets me lick the bowl when she’s done. Sometimes I have to remind her that I’m ready to lick the bowl, so I have a special kind of whine for that. Also, around the time that they eat their meal at nighttime, I like to lay down in my cozy chair and stare at them and whine quietly. This technique reminds them that I am ready to lick any plates or bowls that they put into the thing with a rack that goes in and out. Of course, sometimes Roxie or Cooper beats me to the plates, so I have to put on my best sad face to get in a few licks.

Who is your best bud?

Cooper, definitely. He’s a young whippersnapper, but he keeps me young! We play inside and out and I can always depend on him to help me keep the squirrels out of the backyard.

Anything else we should know?

Just that since I whine a lot I thought I would make everyone happy and be very chill in the silly getup. Also, I’ve lived in a lot of different places: from South Bend, Indiana to Michigan to North Carolina to Illinois to Tennessee to Florida and now back in Michigan. I pride myself on adapting to my surroundings. Life’s a trip, you know?

Name: Maggie
Age: 15
Place of Birth: Goodlettesville, Tennessee

How did you hook up with your people?

Well, I lived in the house that the new people took over. I guess my old people couldn’t take me when they left, so the new people let me live there with them.

I love your ears! Are you a kind of hound?

I think I’m a mixup of yellow lab and red-bone hound.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Eat! I always seem to be hungry. I used to weigh a lot when I first hooked up with the new people, I guess because my old people let me live in the basement and always made sure the huge bowl down there was filled with food. That way, I could eat whenever I wanted to. Of course, my stomach almost touched the ground and it was a little hard to run around in the fields behind the house chasing the turkeys. But I had a blast trying!

You look great now, what happened?

My new people started to feed me like the others in their pack. You know, in a tiny bowl. A really tiny bowl! It seems like after all of these years, I’m still always hungry. But I’m svelte or so I’m told.

How do you get along with the others in your household?

Well, I have to say that most of the time they leave me alone. I don’t really like to play like Athena. I tried it a few times, but it just wasn’t me. I’m really not into chewing bones like Athena, either. No one picks on me (except sometimes for Cooper), so I am glad for that. The people take care of me, and that’s pretty cool, you know?

You did not look happy in the photo.

What photo? Is there a photo?

Name: Lana
Age: 12
Place of birth: Big Rapids, Michigan

If I look carefully, your fur is made up of four colors: black, gray, white and tan. What kind of breed are you, anyway?

Well, I’ve heard the people say I’m part Australian Shepherd and part Border Collie, whatever those are. They also call me a busybody, I guess because I have this intense need to know what’s going on with the others and complain about it if I don’t like it. Like, if Athena and Cooper are playing in the house, I start barking and whining. I know it’s obnoxious, but I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

What do you like to do for fun?

Once in a while I chew on the bones and toys in the bin by the water dish, but mostly I leave that kind of thing to Athena. I play once in a while with Cooper, but to tell you the truth, he’s a little terror. I know I made him that way, because when the people first brought the little guy home, I would kind of tease and terrorize him. You know, come to think of it, I did the same thing to Roxie after the people found her in the front yard. I guess you could call me Dr. Frankenstein or something like that. I helped create a couple of monsters!

Are you close to anyone in your pack?

Not really. In fact, Roxie and I kind of pick on each other. If I lay down just a little too close to her next to the big sofa in the family room, she growls at me and tells me to back off. She has this thing where she has to lay down under the coffee table. She’s always doing that–she says it helps her feel safe. Anyway, I just growl back, and we do this for a while until one of the people tell us to knock it off.

Are you close to anyone?

Of course! The head male guy is my best buddy. At least he was until the little pipsqueak Cooper joined us. I used to lay down on my buddy’s lap and he would rub my belly. But I don’t do that much anymore, because the pipsqueak has taken over the lap. But my buddy still rubs me and talks to me and I show him how much I care with licks and by resting my arm on his shoulder. He likes that. Who wouldn’t?

Anything else?

I was hoping my “I’m so over this” face would convince the other head person to take it off, but she flashed something in my eyes first. I really hope no one ever sees me with this silly hat and scarf.

Name: Roxie
Age: 10
Place of birth: Lenoir, North Carolina

Roxie is a cute name. How’d you get it?

Well, when I was first found wandering around in the yard, the people decided to keep me. I was I think about six weeks old. They were visiting the house they just bought. So, the youngest person, her name is Katie, let me lay down in her lap in the thing they call a car. That’s the first time I heard the name “Roxie.” She thought I looked like a Roxie, and who am I to dispute that?

Lana has reported that she made you into a monster. Do you agree?

Oh, man, did she ever terrorize me! The people had a coffee table at the time that had a lower shelf a few inches up from the floor. Just high enough for me to hide under. Lana would roughhouse with me, and when I needed a safe space, I would run under there. But then she would wait patiently for me to come out. It was a little scary and a little fun, too.

Do you get along with everyone in your pack?

I don’t know…well, I tolerate the others as best I can. I tend to growl when anyone gets in my way or is too close to the lead person.

The lead person? Is that the same person Lana seems to adore?

Yeah. I try to stick to him like glue. Not just because she does, but that could be part of it. Or not.

What do you like to do outside, other than the obvious?

I am always on the outlook for something to bark at. It doesn’t have to be much–a person walking down the road, a squirrel, a bird in the tree in the backyard, a noise somewhere–anywhere! Darn thing is, I can count on the people inside to immediately run out with the leash. I hate that leash! But they have good intentions, so I cut them some slack.

Anything else to add?

Yeah, you asked the others what kind of breed they were, so I thought I would tell you what I am. Except I really don’t know. When I was a pup someone said “German shepherd” and even “rottweiler.” When I was a little older, I heard talk of “Kelpie.” I don’t think my people know, but it doesn’t seem to bother them so I’m okay with it. Also, I didn’t mind the scarf but the hat was just too much!

Name: Cooper
Age: 5
Place of birth: Nashville, Tennessee

You are the smallest of the five. Is that a problem for you?

Naw, I mean you should have seen me when I first joined the others! I was maybe eight weeks old and a lot smaller than I am now. I was living in this place called a humane society. Talk about noise! Anyway, I was glad to finally have a home.

Just what kind of pup are you?

I remember when I was little some guy poking at me and telling my people that I am a Feist. All I know is that I love to dig at the ground and try to climb trees. I also love to be with my buddy, who is my favorite person in the whole world.

Why do you like your buddy so much?

We always hang out on the sofa. I also get to sleep next to him at night. He carries me around whenever I jump up and claw at his legs. He actually calls me his buddy, and there’s nothing better than that!

How do you spend your days?

When my buddy is home, I hang on the sofa with him. When he’s doing other things, the other person lets me sleep behind her in her chair. She’s always looking at some kind of screen and moving her fingers a lot. Heck if I know what she’s doing, but at least I can snuggle, for that is what I like to do best!

Who is that in the photo with you?

What photo? Oh, that’s the other person who lives here. She’s pretty great. When she gets up in the morning, I bark really loud, but Roxie does too so not just me. She sits on the couch and I get to lay down on my very own blankie on her lap. It’s pretty cool.

How do you get along with the others in your pack?

I tend to terrorize Lana the most, and she really doesn’t play with me anymore so she’s no fun. I only pick on Maggie when it’s time to eat, but then the people let her outside while our food is being made because she tends to dance and chatter her teeth. I try to play with Roxie sometimes, but it doesn’t last long. I really like to run around with Athena. She’s older, but she has more energy than me! We look for squirrels outside together, and she has a hard time seeing things sometimes, so when I spot a critter, I bark to let her know where it is. We’re kind of alike that way.

Anything you want to add?

Just that I don’t understand the obsession with the silly hat and scarf. I guess I was pretty uncooperative, but the hat wouldn’t stay on. I’m pretty sure it was made for somebody like Athena or Maggie. I’m just glad it’s over!

Editor’s Note: We lost two of cherished family members in 2021: Maggie in April, and Athena in August. We miss them dearly every single day.

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