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The Smokey Bear and the Maidens Fair

The Maiden Fair

Smokey Bear and the maidens fair,
Euka and Emma

“Oh come” they said,

Oh come to the fair!”
“The fair?” said he,

“But I’m a bear!”

All black and brown,”
And covered in hair!” . . . 

Oh! sweet she was,
And pure and fair,
The maid with honey,
In her hair! Her hair,
The maid with honey,
in her hair!” *

You said we’re going to the Ohio State Fair today? asks Euka.  That’s cool. What category do you have me signed up for?
What category do I . . . um, what are you talking about? I ask.
What. . . cat. . . uh. . . .goree, she says slowly with the hope I might understand this time. For winning a blue ribbon, right? Surely, you’re not thinking it’s called a dogegory. That’s just weird.
No, I wasn’t thinking about categories, dogegories or anything involving winning a ribbon, I said. Actually, Euka my love, I’m concentrating on making sure I have everything we need in your Going Out bag. Your water bowl, cape and Gentle Leader and stuff.
And dog cookies? asks Euka.
Ok, just a few in my pocket, I say. But it’s long past time to wean you off the stuff. It’s like seeing a five year old kid still using a binky. But tell me, Euka, what were you planning on doing to win a blue ribbon anyway?
Oh, I don’t know, she says, tossing her ears back. Maybe something like Best Looking Puppy Ever in the Universe or a special mention for my incredible intelligence. Is there a competition for having the biggest brain in the smallest head?
I don’t think you’d win for having the smallest noggin, I say. About now I’m worried that you’ll be able to fit that big head of yours into the back seat of the car. And I drive a full size.
I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, she says, totally knowing what it means. 

Euka meets Smokey Bear 

Emma and Euka

The Ohio State Fair is designed to be good family-style fun and we show up planning on a great time. Euka and I ride to Columbus with Emma’s puppy raisers to volunteer at a Meet & Greet Table for Canine Companions for Independence.  Our table is set up in the space sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources who gives us a warm welcome.  Plenty of room to put up the tri-fold display and set out brochures, bookmarks and the like.

And hey, speaking of bookmarks, I have to tell you traveling around with these E puppies is like being roadies to a rock band. Sometimes I’m just the chick with the car, driving Miss Euka from gig to gig. I’m her people.
CCI made bookmarks with the E litter for us to hand out at our Meet & Greet and various fundraising events. They’re ridiculously adorable, photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography.  No, I mean it.  Just look at this, willya?
Guess who the sassy pup is, locking eyes with the viewer.  Go ahead, guess.  That’s right, envy me, y’all.  I won the diva lottery.  I know, I should have seen this coming.

Ok, but there’s more.  Take a deep breath now, because you’re gonna have a big d’awwww coming up next.

Told ya. Even I think that’s stinkin’ cute every time I see it. And I live with the puppy.

Did you make a yummy sound?
I called for a knight!
But you’re a bear!
A bear! A bear,
All black and brown,
And covered in hair!*
Directly outside the pavilion is Smokey Bear** to greet fairgoing families. In the spirit of exposing the puppies to the new and different, we walk Emma and Euka over for a quick intro.

At over fourteen feet tall, Smokey Bear has been a fixture here at the Ohio State Fair since  the 1970’s to test the mettle of young children. 
You see, not only is Smokey one big honkin’ beast of a bear in Levi’s, but he also moves about and talks. No, not like Godzilla moving around; he just rolls that head of his back and forth scanning the horizon and his hairy left arm is of the animatronic genre. Which is quite enough for some toddlers, I observed.  Dog forbid if the fellow starting walking, too.
Oh, and when he talks, he refers to you by name. Really. It’s either magical or creepy, depending on your level of heat exhaustion for the day.
Hi Emma and Euka! booms Smokey. What beautiful dogs!

Euka enjoys the tunes of Loosely Strung
Free Bird!, shouts Euka.

In response the yellow girls give this ursine greeting a Say WHAT?! look.  They stare down the two story bear creature, deem it take downable should the need arise, and turn back to each other to continue on with their girly gossip conversation.  Emma’s puppy raisers and I have already noted and agreed on this — these two girls are the same dog in two different packages. 

Dominant, confident and smart.

Hey, Emma, says Euka.  I think that bear wants a bookmark or something.

Yeah, I know, says Emma. I’ll tell my people.

If I don’t graduate as a service dog, says Euka. I can do search and rescue.
Well, except for that thing where I don’t like water too much.

It was raining when we arrived, which
had Euka worried. It was a such a
good hair day and all.


*Four alarm Geek alert, y’all. Here’s the full lyrics to that song from Game of Thrones. Special bonus points go to those who knew that already. We speak the same language of nerdish, you and I. 
The Bear and the Maiden Fair
“A bear there was,”
“A bear, A BEAR!
“All black and brown,”
“And covered with hair!
“Oh come they said,”
“Oh come to the fair!”
“The fair? said he,
“But I’m a bear!”
“All black and brown,”
“And covered in hair!”
“And down the road,”
“From here to there,”
“From here! To there!”
“Three boys, a goat,”
“And a dancing bear!”
“They danced and spun,”
“All the way to the fair!”
“Oh! sweet she was,”
“And pure and fair,”
“The maid with honey,”
“In her hair! Her hair,”
“The maid with honey,”
“in her hair!”
The bear smelled the scent,
“On the summer air!”
“The Bear! The Bear!”
“All black and brown,”
“And covered with hair!”
“He smelled the scent,”
“On the summer air,”
“He sniffed and roared,”
“And smelled it there!”
“Honey on the summer air!”
“Oh I’m a maid,”
“And I’m pure and fair,”
“I’ll never dance,”
“With a hairy bear,”
“A bear! A bear!”
“I’ll never dance,”
“With a hairy bear!”
“The bear,the bear!”
“Lifted her high,”
into the air!”
The bear, the bear!”
“I called for a knight!”
“But you’re a bear!”
“A bear! A bear,”
“All black and brown,”
“And covered in hair!”
“She kicked and wailed,”
“The maid so fair,”
“But he licked the honey,”
“From her hair!”
“Her hair! Her hair!”
“He licked the honey,”
“From her hair!”
“Then she sighed and squealed,”
“And kicked the air,”
“She sang: My bear so fair,”
“And off they went,”
“The bear! The bear!”
“And the maiden fair!”
**Yeah, so it’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear.  There goes another childhood memory.

Wordless Wednesday: Good Bass Door

Why did you call me a Good Bass Door? asks Euka.  I don’t even know what that means. So if I’m doing well at being one, I’m pretty sure it’s by accident.

I said, says I, you are a good ambassador for CCI, Euka. And even if you’re not one on purpose, it’s certainly no accident.

Are you even talking Doglish? asks Euka. Because nothing you’ve just said includes anything like Cookie, Walk or Euka Don’t! I have no idea what you’re going on about.

I mean, I say, that you are representing CCI very well today at this morning’s fundraiser. You and Carter both. For young puppies, you two are heads and withers above the average dog. Your calm greetings and interaction with folk shows how extraordinary CCI dogs are.  People notice this stuff.

It can’t hurt that we’re so blindingly good looking too, says Euka.

I look at our little diva and sigh. I don’t have a response for that, really.  It’s true their very golden presence here at the fundraiser gets the attention of passersby. It’s part of the package that of that very important first impression.

Handsome, smart and using their gifts for the greater good.  Well done, pups, very well done.

Euka is 10 months, Carter is 6 months. Two impressive spokesdogs for CCI.

Turkey in the raw

Sugar cookies made with love by volunteer puppy raiser, Esther.

It’s a rather gorgeous fall morning and we can’t think of anything else we’d rather do this fine day than spend it at Aullwood Farm. Time for the annual Aullwood Apple Fest where the crisp autumn air is heavy with the aromas of apple butter in copper kettles and lamb chili simmering over an open campfire.

Puppy raisers Jerry and Jerri, along with Bud and Esther, have scored some prime real estate right at the entrance of the day’s events for our CCI Meet & Greet booth. 

Jorja, Juley and Yaxley on duty and ready to schmooze.

And it’s the yeller dog patrol reporting for duty. Now Yax and Juley have worked a CCI booth before and they’ve got this stuff down cold.  Indeed, so much so, that they’ve taken it upon their fuzzy selves to mentor young Jorja on the fine art of working the crowds. 

Okey dokey, Jorja, says Yaxley, just watch Juley and me. There’s really nothing to it.  You’ll wanna start with letting the little kids pat you on the head. See, kiddo? Easy nuff.

That’s right, continues Juley, but remember that there’s some young folk out there that aren’t very comfortable with the business end of a dog, so they may start with your fluffy behind. And that’s ok, too.  Just don’t release a blossom, if you know what I mean. And actually, I’m talking to you, Little Lord Yaxley.  You just about knocked out that last kid, you know.

Ha ha, sez Yax, good one, Juley. You’re so funny I forgot to laugh.  Besides, I didn’t think that particular one was so bad.   Heh, you should have been there yesterday at work when the Food Lady was in a budget meeting and  . . .

Gross!, Juley says, ugh, boy dogs! You’d walk around nothing but a cow patty on your head and a smile on your face!

Would not! counters Yax, well, maybe.  But anyway we’re outside, so I get special dispensation. 

What?!, Juley cries, Dispensation my yellow  . . . hey Jorja, wait! Where are you going?  We’re almost done with the lesson.  Pay attention, girl, you need to know this stuff if you wanna be all professional like us.

Now kid, the very last step, Yax says, getting all serious again, is to wait until your puppy raiser is talking to a parental unit, then you very slowly just kinda roll over to your side. Close your eyes, gently lift up your legs and . . . 

Next thing you know, sighs Juley, is you’ve got cotton-candy scented hands rubbing your belly and you are golden.  A special kind of nirvana, it is.  The kids love it.  Um, yeah, because we’re doing this for the kids.  To make them happy and all.

Meanwhile, Micron is watching this exchange from the sidelines and rolling his brown eyes. Of course, Mr. Mike has worked many a CCI booth in his eighteen months of puppy training. He knows all the ins and outs of conning folk into a belly rub and making them feel like he’s the one doing the favor.

But now being a change of career dog (actually a no-career dog, I say), he can no longer represent CCI at the booth. Instead we leave the professionals to do their work and the two of us take a stroll through the farm for old times’ sake.

A stop at the herb garden

So, the usual farm & barn stuff. We visit horses, sheep, pigs and . . . holy cow!

What is this fresh nightmare?, Micron wants to know.

Ah, this is indeed a new sight for the mighty Micron.  In our earlier puppy time together, we may have missed the turkey socialization opportunity.

Here’s a rather personal question for y’all.  You ever been stalked by a turkey?  No?

Well, lemme share what it looks like.

Hmm, this little red-waddled mastermind is thinking, if I walk sideways real slow, then they won’t see me coming. 
Right. Here’s another little known factoid about my previous life that you’re likely to find as compelling as the last tidbits I’ve tossed at you. In my long ago youth, I was indeed a simple farm girl and had spent enough time around smelly feathered fowl to know poultry are about as clever in the head as sheep. No offense to sheep.

I mean, just take a moment to study the head on that bird. Three quarters of the noggin is committed to the beak, with the remaining quarter used up for the eye socket.  So, where do you suppose the brain could be?  That’s right, the bird ain’t got one. Instead it survives on some primitive neurological packet located like a ziploc baggie somewhere around the poultry by-product section. No, it’s true, I looked it up on Wikipedia and everything.

So, I tell Micron, heed this advise from someone who knows. Whatever you do, kiddo, just don’t look the thing in the eye. 

Well, that’s just great.  Now you’re a turkey zombie, Micron.  Ah, no matter, the effects usually wear off rather quickly.  Let’s get back to the booth to check on the pups.

Collectively, they share one brain.

But even turkey brains can’t turn off the Micron charm, it seems. We meet a few families on the way back to the CCI booth that want to give the big yellow dog a pat on the head.

Check this out, newbie pups.  Let a master show you how things are done.

And a bonus dose of lovin’ from a rather young appreciator of fuzzy yellow dogs. That Micron accepted this big wet kiss without reciprocating with that happy tongue of his, well, maybe the big guy is maturing just a little.

You know, I like this next shot so much, that I did some fancy-pants photoshopping with the levels and color. Micron’s gaze upon the toddler, those pudgy little digits gripping all that fluffy goodness, it just makes me smile.


My no-career dog has a calling and we both know it. Now we just need to figure out what he’s meant to be doing.

Next post:  Four paws away from being an animal hoarder.  Or maybe not.

Landlocked in the midwest

Because Canine Companions for Independence is a national organization, you can find a volunteer puppy raiser just about anywhere. Just this morning I was looking at photos of a CCI training event with a backdrop of swaying palm trees, clear blue water and sailboats. Ah, nice.

Yaxley’s littermate Yarrow (second from right) joins
in a doggie birthday celebration

But hey, I got photos, too. Just because we’re in landlocked Ohio (the Heart of America!) doesn’t mean we’re just mosquitoes and humidity around here. We do have lakes and things.  And we have Ohio State Parks, always a fine choice to see our state’s natural wonders, especially with your favorite dog at your side.

Hi! I’m gonna be a service dog
when I grow up!

To help in raising awareness of their dog friendly parks, CCI was invited to share the Ohio State Park information booth at our state fair this weekend. Yaxley stepped into his yellow cape and we headed out to Columbus to work the crowds. 

A typical August day in Ohio, warm and muggy, with the occasional flash flood thunderstorm. But it didn’t keep folk from enjoying the state fair. Several puppy raisers and a few service dog teams were at our Meet & Greet booth to share information on CCI.  The dogs earned their kibble, too. Just non-stop activity all day.

Yaxley shared his shift with the lovely Wish, a fellow puppy-in-training. Families stopped by the booth to meet these two adorable yellow puppies. Yax just has it in his nature to love little kids, but when they’re fresh from the midway smelling like deep-fried fair goodness, well, that’s just a bonus.

So another training opportunity for the pup to work on that ever elusive skill of self-control. There’s not really a don’t lick command to whisper in his ear. It’s more like a just plain and firmly stated Don’t!  Keep in mind that there’s a fine balance between effectively correcting your dog while not scaring the diaper off the little kid who’s getting the ketchup cleaned off his face. I’m still working my finesse on that one.

Wish and Yaxley await their audience

So, another day of time well spent. Raising awareness and training opportunities. Now I’m off to practice giving firm commands using my indoor voice.

I’m saving myself for the cover of the Rolling Stone

Now if someone would just slip a dog biscuit into my mouth,
I believe we’ll have a trifecta
Red, Yax & Mojo take a short break
It seems that Red may be sharing a naughty joke
with Yaxley.

Dogs for a dollar

Yaxley is ready to do his business at Buehler’s.
No, not that business, he’s selling hot dogs.

“You have dogs for sale?”
That’s right.  One dollar for a hot dog and the brats are a dollar fifty
“Um. I mean the dogs . . . are they up for adoption or something?”

And so begins an awkward segue into explaining our pups in training for Canine Companions for Independence.

Yaxley and I spent a gorgeous Saturday afternoon with other CCI supporters at Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Delaware, Ohio. It was a Grilling Dogs with the CCI Dogs fundraising event located at the wonderfully shaded entrance to the store. A nice little setup with hot dogs, brats, drinks, and chips for sale. And slices of pie fresh from the bakery. Enough good stuff to draw a hungry crowd. 

As food booth volunteers, we were given the options of food prep, running the cash drawer or crowd socializing with the pups. I’m kinda stumped on how to share my job choice without sounding lazy, so I’ll just be up front about it and lay it all out there for you.

Look, I already cook a meal nearly every bleary-eyed evening after a long day at work goofing around with budgets. So thinking I’ll pass on any opportunities involving food or math. Socializing, though?  That sounds easy. Especially since I’ll be holding the leash of an adorable puppy that will be doing most of the work.

So with my work ethic safely stowed away, I pulled up a $29.99 lawn chair and awaited our audience.

Hey, it’s not like Yaxley had to do the work all by himself. He had lots of help in greeting folk. Jones was there to break up the heavy work load, so poor Yax didn’t have the carry that burden of greeting every little kid that stopped by to give a belly rub.

Jones and Yaxley ready to work the crowd
Just a little bit closer, kid.  Almost . . . close . . . enuf . . . to. . . lick

Then just in time as the lunch crowd is showing up, the relief team of Haiku and Dahl are there to assist.  In hindsight, in the photo below I now realize there’s a large red arrow that’s pointed directly at Dahl’s labrador noggin. And then yet another arrow is right there at her, um, tail.  Certainly not intentional and my apologies to Dahl for any loss of dignity. But still — it makes me giggle when I look at it.

Ok, everybody say Cookie!
Yaxley, Haiku and Dahl smile for the camera.

And then, oh the glory of it all, another young puppy shows up. Yaxley makes a seamless and immediate shift change from professional crowd socializer to six month puppy goofball.  Hey there cutie, he says.  What’s your name?

Girly girl Jada.
Check out those soulful brown eyes.

Yaxley meets the glorious Jada, an eight month old CCI pup in training. And his puppy brain short-circuits. Just as the neurons start misfiring and inspiring random puppy behavior, I’m handed Jada’s leash to hold for a minute. And Yaxley announces that it’s now Break TimeHey Jada, let’s rassle!

I unhinge Yaxley’s puppy snout from Jada’s front leg and try to explain that, Yax honey, Jada’s not that kind of girl.

She’s well-behaved.

We gather up some self-control and get back to work.  Then Yaxley tells me enough is enough, Food Lady.  I certainly can’t expect him to work all day.

Aw, can’t I just chew on her leg for a few minutes?

So Yaxley and Jada declare an official nap time for all working dogs.

Dahl shows the youngsters how the pros do it.

Dahl!  Dahl!  Lookit me!  I’m doing it!
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