Luna’s 2019 Resolutions

The Resolute Luna
The Resolute Luna

January brings frosty weather and those dreaded New Years resolutions. Google reports that only 9.2 percent of people are successful at sticking to their resolutions; Luna is going to prove that dogs can be 100 percent successful. Here are her resolutions:

1. Chase the wind, not George. When it blows, she goes…outside. Why don’t leaves have squeakers?

2. Barkdust is a perfect place for a poo. Luna is learning that the Pottery Barn rug is not the spot to make a spot, but leaving something in the leaves or an ass in the grass is just fine.

3. Learn to play with CoCo. The fence is still dividing Dog World from Catsville, CoCo goes nose to nose with the pup and lets Luna know she disapproves with an occasional hiss. (CoCo’s resolution: “Scratch the puppy’s eyes out!”)

4. Make friends with the Cockapoo in the fireplace glass. She’s pretty hot! Next year: make friends with the Cockapoo in the oven door.

5. Train dad to throw cheese more accurately. Luna will never get to 30 pounds without more string cheese bites. George: you snooze, you lose.

6. Make mom and dad exercise more: walks and evening ball throws. Wow, mom has big biceps; she should thank Luna for all those ball tosses. Dad could lose a pound or two anyway.

7. Conserve water: use the bowl water to wash the floor. And with all the muddy footprints, do it more! (Is there a way to attach a swiffer head to the bottom of the dish?)

8. Plan a garden: she’s already had lots of practice digging and has grand plans for moving day lilies and roses (she’s already tried.)

9. Eat all her food: every floor hockey kibble puck and bully stick remnant. Eat more cat food too (if CoCo will share.)

10. What do you think Luna’s last resolution should be? Email a suggestion, which I will post as an update.

The Babylonians began the custom of making year-beginning promises 4,000 years ago in order to get on the right side of their gods.

Thanks to Julius Caesar, we have the Julian calendar so we know when the year begins; Caesar declared January 1 the day to honor Janus, the god of new beginnings.

Luna would like to dedicate January second to all puppys’ new beginnings.

Silent Dog

The original version of Silent Night was written as the result of a broken organ and the local priest wanting to preserve the parish’s tradition of singing Christmas carols; Silent Night was a solution. Our inspiration? Luna sleeping on the couch in the evenings after a hard day at doggy daycare.
(Sung to Silent Night)


Silent Dog

Silent night, sleepy night
All is calm, all is right
On the sofa is Mom and the Pup
Close together they’re cuddled up
Sleep for an hour at least, ooh,
Sleep for an hour at least.

Silent night, sleepy night
Georgie quakes in the night
Lightbeams stream from the porch light outside
CoCo meows a cry from inside
When will the food fill my dish, hey
When will the food fill my dish

Silent night, sleepy night


Mom and the Pup

All is calm, all is right
Round the kitchen, doggies and cat
Cannot wait for our morning chat
Sleep thru the whole night, please! Ooh,
Sleep thru the whole night, please!

Luna’s Box is Coming to Town

Once again we abuse a classic Christmas song out of blatant love of our dog! And, if you don’t know anything about Bark Boxes, you should click here!
(Sung to Santa Claus is Coming To Town)

You betta watch out, you betta not sigh
You betta not bark I’m telling you why
Santa’s sending a Bark Box to town

He’s looking inside, he’s checking it twice
Gonna find out if the squeakers are nice
Santa’s sending a Bark Box to town

He knows when you’ve been barking
He sees you take your walks
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for a big Bark Box

You betta watch out, you betta not beg
You betta not chew a wooden chair leg
Santa’s sending a Bark Box to town

Luna the wet-nosed rain dog

With a nod to Bob Rivers, a former Seattle-area DJ who wrote and produced many Christmas song parodies (“Walkin’ ‘Round in Women’s Underwear” is one of my favorites), we present “Luna the wet-nosed rain dog.”

Ready to sing!

(Sung to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

Luna, the wet-nosed rain dog
Has a very spongy nose
And if you’ve never felt it
Try asking someone else who knows

All of her other dog friends
Like to bark and jump insane
When she comes to the Scoob Shack
To run around in the rain

On one stormy Weekday night
Scooby came to say
Luna with your nose so moist
All the dogs want you to play

Now she goes to shack up weekly
With Scooby and all her furry friends
Luna the wet-nosed rain dog
She hopes the good times never end

 

Jingle Dog Rock

I actually look forward to the 1950s Jingle Bell Rock on our all-Christmas music radio station, blaring out of the dashboard (forgive me Bobby Helms!)
Sung to Jingle Bell Rock)

Jingle toys, squeaky toys, soggy toys rock
Jingle cat meows and Georgie dog sings
Chasing and barking up toy tubs of fun
Now the ev’ning doggy romp has begun

Jingle treats, yummy treats, turkey treats rock
Single size treats with mystery meats
Runnin’ and jumpin’ ‘round the table and chairs
Without a single care!

What a bright time, it’s the right time
To chew the night away
Jingle bell time is a swell time
To eat bullies in a one-dog crate

Giddy-up cockapoo, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock
Mix and a-mingle the treats that you eat
That’s the jingle dog rock!

Deck the Luna

New Luna the Cockapoo lyrics set to a classic holiday song.

“Deck the Luna”

(Sung to “Deck the Halls”)

Deck the crate and chase a collie
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
Barking at the fire is folly
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
If you’re George you are in peril
Bow wow wow, wow wow wow, wow wow wow
It sometimes seems like the cat is feral
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow

Let’s jump upon the tree before us
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
Accidents can cause a ruckus
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
Follow me to find a treasure
Bow wow wow, wow wow wow, wow wow wow
To relieve myself is sure a pleasure
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow

Fast away the evening passes
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
Hail for Rin-Tin and for Lassie
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow
Next to George we howl together
Bow wow wow, wow wow wow, wow wow wow
Heedless of the rainy weather
Bow wow wow wow, wow wow wow wow

Luna the Paper Tiger

The Shredder

Luna the Cockapoo is addicted to paper, actually, to chewing in general.

It’s a puppy phase, we are told.

She is not particular about her forest products: napkins, paper towels, receipts, band-aid wrappers, brown paper bags. We try to scan our major receipts and then shred them; maybe Luna could be our “green” shredder! She has a great future career as a professional label remover.

Great shredding results in quite the nest. Was she a bird or a wasp in a former life?

If our girls were still in school, we would have a real chance of sending to school some pictures of homework the dog destroyed (whether or not it was intentional.)

At a recent dinner party I watched from the kitchen as Luna quietly snuck up to a guest’s lap and oh-so gently pulled off that guest’s napkin without his even noticing. (Shredding was also quiet.)

When she plays “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” guess what? She always plays “paper” (although it can be hard to tell with her paw.)

Of course, her chew targets are much broader: she fixates on the throw rugs in front of the back door and has destroyed several. When the rains return, I hope she’ll appreciate the opportunity to dry her wet paws (and fly about the back yard with her new wings.) Probably not.

The Shredder – off

Puppy chewing has expanded to the handles on her toy box, which are at just the right height – no reaching or bending over, but oh so tasty.

Her fixation on forest products occasionally extends to a chair leg; I’ve recently caught her chewing on the edge of a piano bench. Fortunately she is easily distracted by a woody-looking bully.

As one online training site suggested, “Although it’s perfectly normal for a puppy to chew on furniture, shoes, shrubbery and such, these behaviors can be a problem for you…. As long as you keep the learning behavior from becoming a habit, your puppy should outgrow this chewing, too.”

Either Luna doesn’t know she should have out grown this two months ago or we’re screwed.

Luna’s thankful list

“Gratitude is the act of feeling and communicating appreciation for the people, circumstances and material possessions in our lives. The word gratitude comes from the Latin root gratus, meaning ‘pleasing; welcome; agreeable.’”
(“Gratitude: the ultimate spiritual practice,” Forbes, November 22, 2017).

I don’t know if Luna the Cockapoo feels gratitude, or even thankfulness. But we do know that certain experiences in her life are certainly pleasing and agreeable, so we will just go with that. Luna’s thankful list includes:

1. Her water bowl. Not necessarily the water in it, just the bowl. Luna does not hesitate to let us know her dish is out of water: she often grabs it and brings it to us while we watch a movie in the evenings. We’re thankful it is a “spill-proof” or (let’s be real, here!) less-likely-to-spill-much-on-the-floor variety. It’s also a great source for her soggy, drippy snout.

Toys, toys, TOYS!

2. Toys. A whole toy box of them to scatter over the floor so that the people will step on squeakers. Soooo glad she doesn’t play with Legos.

3. Scooby Shack, the Doggy Daycare. Luna LOVES playing with the big dogs!! So much so, she often limps home and sleeps for a couple of days. What the heck! Maybe WE love The Shack more than Luna!

4.Our new(ish) Pottery Barn rug. While George the Old Man Bishon chooses to barf, squeeze and peez on the cheap doorway throw rugs, Luna prefers the lush life, that is using our lush Pottery Barn rug for those quick “bathroom breaks.” We are thankful we’ve found she needs to go (outside) between 8 and 9 pm, but the rug has been steam cleaned several times since her arrival.

5. Our fireplace glass doors. We didn’t think she had much of a bark until she discovered “the other” Lunapoo in the window, that is the fireplace doors, as well as the oven door and the wine refrigerator door. Thankfully the one in the window doesn’t bark back.

6. Bark dust under the plum tree. As long as there’s nice bark dust below her favorite sheltering tree, Luna opts for this privy instead of the expensive carpet from Pottery Barn; guess a Home Depot purchase is in the near future.

7. Bullies. We know what bullies are made from, but does Luna? Makes no difference as she happily chews bull privates. Need we say more??!

8. Apples. In contrast, every morning there is a patient, apricot-colored face looking up while I cut apples for lunches; she takes a sliver with a shy dog smile. Makes my day!

9. George, her favorite toy. The Old Man has so many things he could teach her, but we would rather she not learn anything from him (read the aforementioned cleanup issues.) But George is a loyal associate, always ready to eat leftover kibble and be the squeeky ball for Luna’s game of tackle football. Go Packers! Go Bichons!

Luna loves Mom loves Luna

10. Lastly, we, her people, are so very thankful to have Luna in our lives. She makes us laugh. She makes us roll our eyes. Even after all those times she has chewed on the backdoor blinds, blown out her crate, shredded paper, stained that expensive PB carpet, we LOVE her. She is the Best Dog Ever.

Our dear friends: We hope you remember the many things for which you are thankful this Thanksgiving. HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE WOLFF FAMILY!!

The Rain of Luna

How did our “water dog” become disinterested in, no, reluctant to venture out in the rain?

Bad news, Luna: it’s fall in the Pacific Northwest and the rain hath cometh. It’s raining as I write this.

And it’s beginning to rain indoors. Luna the Cockapoo has decided she doesn’t want to get her paws wet when she squeezes and peezes. We are having more indoor accidents.

We expect reluctance from George the Old Man Bischon. Peeing and pooping indoors when it rains has been his M. O. for most of his 14 years. But even he is charging out into the wet grass to find his squat spots. Except last night.

It’s gonna to rain all fall, Luna. Your favorite place for poopaloopas is covered in soggy leaves. We’ll see if she can be lured there with fresh bark dust.

Luna on Fountain Rock

There’s great irony in Luna’s new-found willingnesss to piddle on the wet grass in the the front yard. And this comes after standing on our Fountain Rock where she ALWAYS stops for a drink and where her paws always get wet.

It’s gonna rain most of the winter, Luna, except for a week in January when there are clear blue skies and temps below freezing. Luna, your moist nose could freeze; careful when you squat in the frozen grass (if you ever do) or stand on Frozen Rock. Snow is rare here; you’d likely be buried in snow back in Wisconsin.

Googling “my puppy won’t pee in the rain” returns all sorts of solutions, clearly some written by content hacks who don’t have dogs, advising, “just stand there in the rain until the dog gets the idea.” Like it’s an issue of confusion!

It’s gonna rain all spring, Luna, except for late May right before the start of the Rose Festival, then rain for a week, turning the fun center midway into the mud-way and making parade-goers soggy.

Maybe Luna will rock the fashion world with a purple rain slicker.

Then summer will return July 5th and Luna will want to lie (hopefully not pee!) in her wading pool.

How did you train your dog to do its duty outside in the rain? Send me an email and I will add everyone’s story as an update to this blog.

Luna and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad tummy

Clean up on the dog aisle.

When our daughters started daycare and later during the fall in elementary school, little feet and nose both ran. And they were so generous, so sharing! In just a day or two mom and/or dad would also be sick.

The no longer horrible very bad dog crate.

Hard to know about Luna’s playmates at doggy daycare. Like toddlers, Luna the Cockapoo and her doggy friends probably don’t wash their paws. They probably share bowls, toys and water. And who knows what they step in out on the playground. Was it the Sharpei puppy, the bouncy border collie or perhaps a pug?

She played Tuesday with the big dogs, so it should have been no surprise that Luna might pick up a bug, a virus or some kind of general dog tummy upset. But I was sure surprised to get home that Friday and NOT find either Luna or her wire crate. Our housekeepers had been at the house earlier that day; maybe they had moved her to the entry. Not there. In the kitchen at the other end of the island? No. Now I was panicking.

To quote George Takei (“Sulu” on Star Trek), “Oh my.”

Only when I glanced outside did I find the crate and in it a very forlorn doggy who was sitting amidst a whole lot of “doggy accidents.” After nearly an hour of dog bathing and crate scrubbing I found a note saying the cleaning crew had discovered first a noxious odor and then the messy dog and crate. They moved her outside (fortunately on a sunny, warm afternoon) so they could clean the house and the dog aisle.

To say we have practice cleaning out crates is an understatement. George the Old Man Bichon has never understood that dogs don’t soil their beds. From puppyhood until this day, George has had many excuses for pooping and peeing in his crate. “It’s too wet out.” Or “it’s too cold out.” And then there’s “It’s too wet and cold out.” Of course he has never shied away from making yellow snow.

The End

Our favorite vet suggested the dog explosion was a one-time event triggered by stress or some change. I wanted to believe; we were leaving her in our daughter’s care that weekend while we frolicked at an out-of-town retreat. There was one smaller accident later that night and nothing else that weekend, so we were in the clear…Or at least we THOUGHT we were in the clear…!

Alas, Luna (and our floor) were “Color me Brown” again on Monday. Like all little ones, after more clean up and a vet visit (and a round of anti- and pro-biotics (this is the year 2019 after all!), Luna has returned to her jolly self. But Luna is so kind, so sharing, with her food dish, water bowl and virus…

Cleanup in the Old Man Bichon aisle!

Luna’s Toy Box

Ah, the holidays. They bring so many fun things, including an endless array of holiday TV shows. One of our favorite films is Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. I mean, what child could forget The Island of Misfit Toys?? Our beloved Luna has certainly rescued most of those toys as they have found their way to our house!

Luna’s Toy Box

According to PAWS, “Many behavior problems in dogs are the result of boredom or excess energy. Toys offer mental and physical stimulation and enrichment. Directing your dog’s energy into play with toys can prevent or help resolve such problems as digging and chewing on furniture, shoes or shrubbery.” Dog psychologists take note – Luna the Cockapoo is 4 for 4 with these problems — she’s done them all.

Chris the Trainer tells us that a favorite toy can also be incorporated into training to get a dog’s attention. Many shopping excursions later…we’re on it! First off, dogs (well at least Luna) live to chase. We started with an Interactive Toy: the traditional tennis ball, but having found Bark Box, we (and our money) have moved on to monthly themed squeakers. Strange characters (two bats named Frank and Dean), an evil pumpkin and a replica of french fries (“fetch fries”) in a cardboard basket. I’m guessing next month will bring a stuffed squeaking turkey and possibly a large turkey leg (Can’t wait to see what “The Box” will do for Monsieur Stuffing or Grandma Gravy!!)

And then there are so-called Distraction Toys that make it possible to cook dinner while Luna is racing around the kitchen. These include her Bullies (“pizzle,” aka bull privates) and pig ears.

Dogs are said to love cognitive toys. The thinking process can be just as tiring as a romp, as we’ve witnessed after many sessions with Chris the Trainer. We haven’t invested any of these but could sacrifice a dictionary for Luna to chew on — does that count?

Squeaky toys are a distraction. The squeak mimics the sound of prey dying, so a squeaky toy inspires a dog’s instinct to hunt. I could see Luna retreiving a downed foul, only to run around the yard playing keep-away-from-the-human.

And lastly, there are Comfort Toys, which may or may not include my hand for chewing or leg for humping. These include plush toys, which also can be connected with the hunting instinct, or in Luna’s case, the sleeping instinct – she usually sleeps on three or four.

Of course, Luna has a hybrid toy: George the Old Man Bishon, who both squeaks and is plush. The way Luna stalks and then attacks George is far closer to the hunt than picking up her polyester bunny replica. George requies no batteries, no hand to initiate the squeek and even moves on his own vs. being thrown, making the hunt that much more satisfying. Mom’s slippers are also plush, and, while not a normal toy, Luna takes great delight grabbing one and playing keep-away-from-the human around the kitchen island.

Luna with Fries

And lest we forget: every toy deserves a Toy Box. Luna’s is a plastic tub about as tall as Luna’s shoulders, making it tough for the unloved babe to get to anything but a top-layer toy. This will soon be replaced by a small dumpster, if our orders from Bark Box continue.

Please be on the look out for a plush replica of Aaron Rogers: Luna will get a thrill chewing on her favorite football player during games. Even better (for her, not us!) if it smells like Aaron after a game.

A football life: Luna the Cockapoo

FALL IS HERE!! When the leaves start to turn color around our house, we begin to speak another language:

12th Dog

Touchdown, Superbowl, Russell, Nick, field goal, Chip, f#%$&@g dumb refs, Tom Brady, Andy, Marcus…Aaron (especially Aaron

Yes, folks, It’s football season.

Luna the Cockapoo has a long, complicated (as much as it can be given she’s only six months old) history with football.

Having been born in Iola, Wisconsin, Luna continually insists she is a “life long” (remember that six month window…) Green Bay Packers fan (#packers). To the contrary, we remind her on a daily basis that she was born after the end of football season last year and had no concept of football until we brought her home to Portland. LUNA, YOU ARE IN SEAHAWKS COUNTRY NOW. (#seahawks)

George and the Helmet Head

Despite our admonishments, Luna waxes philosophical about her buddy Aaron Rodgers regularly. Making fried chicken?? Aaron would NEVER eat that! Complaining about the rain?? Well, Aaron has thrown footballs in sub-zero weather!! Own a Bichon?? Well…you get the picture.

And what football season is complete without (NFL-licensed) gear?

With all due respect to her Wisconsin heritage, we did make for Luna a ceremonial Cheese Head hat (which, rightfully, she couldn’t wait to take off!) Being Seattle natives in part, we think she makes an excellent 12th dog. Thanks to a quick trip to the pet store, Luna now has an officially licensed Seahawks jersey, which she styled on Game Day against the

Luna the Cheese Head

Cowboys, causing our/her team to win, 24-13.

What, no football? Well, there’s always George the Old Man Bichon. Official NFL footballs are 11 inches tip to tip and the circumference at the widest point is about 22 inches (plus or minus Inflategate, or in George’s circumstances before or after dinner.) He’s pretty close to official size!

November 15 will be a house divided when the Seahawks welcome those Packers in Seattle. Maybe George will have some fan gear of his own by then celebrating Nick Fowles and the Philadelphia Eagles

Educating Luna (not Rita)

The leaves turn, the air cools, children wait at corners holding backpacks heavy with unread textbooks and one dog goes to school.

Luna the Cockapoo has begun to learn.

Her people (our family) readied for her homecoming by watching Zak George videos and reading his book. He makes dog training look easy! It’s really an exercise in patience.

Lily the Bichon took a course at a nearby pet store. She heeled when we walked, played fetch, and could sit, lay down and shake paws on command (for treats – when she wanted to).

Hiring a private, in-home trainer is such a yuppy solution. But, sadly, that’s who we are and who we’ve hired. Chris the trainer makes his way to our house every Saturday to watch us stand like storks, make very serious arm movements followed by cheese treats and rounds of “YES!” to mark the moments. These are really meant to train the people; Luna is just the confirmation of our success.

Luna at the Shack

In addition to training, Luna gets much needed social and gossip time with other large dogs and small dogs (“blue dogs and red dogs”), where she can endlessly ask, “Do you like my hat? Does it make my butt look big?” We investigated several “doggie daycares” nearby, and ultimately chose The Scooby Shack.

No….the truth in 2018 is The Scooby Shack “approved” Luna. Doggy daycares in this age resemble human daycares where toddlers get a test visit to see if he or she is a biting risk, adequately potty trained or knows Pi to 100 decimal places. We were warned by Chris the Trainer that The Shack is the best daycare suburban money can buy. The Shack doesn’t accept just ANY well healed pooch. No….you must be…ACCEPTED – Just like Harvard. Not sure how Luna was tested, but she (and our $30/day) were welcomed anytime (guess she passed that math test!)

We always joke about the Scooby Shack humans who we have labeled after Scooby Do characters. The unlucky fellow we first met is “Shaggy,” his co-workers are “Fred” and “Velma.” We’ve not met a “Daphne” yet, but that could be a future mystery to solve.

Saying goodbye to Chris the Trainer

We have recently discovered Luna has some bad habits spilling her water, which has clearly upset Shaggy. We hope she won’t be expelled, as Club Canine simply isn’t as good a school (wrong side of the tracks and all.)

We’ll throw a big party (and cry) when Luna graduates; not sure if dog-sized motar boards exist (THEY DO!), but she would surely wear one.

What is the coolest trick you have taught your dog? Send me an email and I will add everyone’s story as an add-on to this blog.

The name game

What’s in a name? Well, an identity for all of your life and then some.

Who is this Cockapoo?

(My parents told me it took them several days AFTER I was born to come up with the right sounding name combination. What they were thinking the previous six-plus months I will never know.) You can call me Johnson.

A naming convention is a scheme for naming things. Conventions differ in their intents, for instance, streets that are consecutively numbered.

I am not aware of a scheme for naming pets, although I have heard that using human names can be problematic: for instance, if you’re on the street and call out “Jack” and have a handful of people yell “here!”

What does Luna mean? Was she born during a full moon? Is there a moon-shaped spot on her tummy? Nah, Mom wanted to name her Lula, but the family said nope. Then our daughter got creative and suggested Luna instead.

But that’s not always what we call her. Between the three of us at home, we have a varied list for this Cockapoo:

Luna

Luna-bafoona

Luna Balloona

Wagly

Wagness

Wagmaster

Poo-bear

Pupka

The Dog

Lunapoo

Little Girl

Girl with the Curl

Lunesta (like the drug)

Lunatic

Lunamoons

lunsamoons

Lumimooni

Of course there are websites for naming. One site advertises 400,000 baby (human) names. Probably as many pet names too. Looks like we’re on our way with nearly 20.

The Girl with the Curl

“Sometimes you need a little finesse, sometimes you need a lot.”

It’s great to have fun with Luna, but sometimes all that bad ass dog play time ends up with her having “that not so fresh feeling” or just the bad (smelling) ass. (Let’s not discuss adventures with CoCo the cat, who left a racing stripe on our bed the other day.)

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Enter Salon de la Poo Key Steps to Grooming:

Gather your tools

Tool box.

At our house, we are so-o-o versed in grooming terms of art:

  • 4 blade
  • 5 blade
  • 10 blade (for those wanting a Brazilian)
  • Oatmeal avocado shampoo and conditioner (why stick with plain old oatmeal?!)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Ellen Degeneres detangler
  • Toe clippers
  • Lots of towels
  • The “hold-all” plastic box with caddy shelf
  • Mom’s old hair dryer

Pre-bath brushing

No point bathing leaves, bark chips, dirt, small rodents/dead cats imbedded in the fur; gotta brush all that out. Get real! Who knew there was a retractable(!) slicker brush? And what IS a slicker brush? Well, we have one (or two) of those too. “One of the best tools for undercoats,” says an Amazon description (must be true if it’s on the internet.)

Bathing

Tubby time.

At almost nineteen pounds, the laundry sink that was quite deep for the Old Man Bichon isn’t the same for Luna. Still big enough to hold her to spray down, she can more easily get out if it’s a solo washer. Fortunately, we started the bath routine early and because she is a “waterpoo,” she’s patient throughout the rinsing, the shampooing all over and on the head, more rinsing, the conditioning and still more rinsing.

We have talked about purchasing her own set of apricot towels (to match her coat of course) not only for bath time, but also for a dry-off after fall and winter weather romps; an embroidered name on the towels is probably too much for her gentle ego.

Blow drying

How embarrassing! Mom’s blow dryer?? Really? Guess we know what Luna is getting for Christmas! (Do they come in an apricot color?)

Other

On the grooming table.

Grooming table? Why not? Got one!

Dog teeth brushing? Seriously? Have you tried the new charcoal toothpaste? Luna hasn’t (yet), either.

Then, after an hour of work and a final squirt of (apple scented) finishing spray, it immediately goes to hell when Luna runs outside to dig in the flower beds.

 

Luna is my co-pilot

I must confess I’ve always been envious of people whose big dog is hanging its head out a car window with the happy face on and ears blowing in the wind.

Luna rocks her purple harness.

And, equally truthful, I really have no idea how to train a dog to be THAT dog riding in a car, going to Home Depot, doggy daycare or who-knows-where.

There are You Tube videos that offer pointers, but I haven’t watched them.

We didn’t try very hard with the Bichons. They were anxious about so many things. And, what did we know? They rode in crates, they rode on laps. They whined (but didn’t dine) and shook on many drives to the beach. The lap dogs were never going to be the happy face in the breeze.
But what we are learning from Luna is that sometimes you just have to jump into things, like a swimming pool for the first time.

I have learned to utilize her purple harness so that her leash wraps around the headrest and reattaches to the harness with a carabineer. Luna has enough room to put paws on the window, paws on the middle console/my arm or lie down, but in a sudden stop she would never leave the seat to hit the dashboard.

So we took the plunge and drove together. First it was to McDonalds from where our daughter faithfully gets lunch every Saturday and Sunday. A bit nervous at first, Luna was easily distracted by string cheese, a trick we learned from Chris the Trainer from Lucid.

Luna, I guess this is training.

Luna gets her first open window rush.

Then I drove her to Home Depot where we wandered around looking for a spray cleaner. And she was so VERY good on leash, rocking the purple harness.
We have taken a half dozen drives together so far. She’s gone with me to the pet store where we have wandered the aisles smelling bags of food, peoples shoes and (hoping to eat, I mean greet) kittens up for adoption.

Now I’m looking for any excuse to drive somewhere with her. Ultimately, we want to take her to the beach, but that’s a two-hour drive she may not ready to take just yet.

The co-pilot to become a Sea Dog?

How did you train your dog to ride in the car? Click here to write to Scott Wolff. I will update this blog as I receive your comments.

Luna the Waterpoo

Who knew we would have a water dog!

Clearly, Luna the Cockapoo is not Portuguese (Head of Cheese, maybe, given her Wisconsin heritage); however, on a Wikipedia list of so called water dogs (“a type of gundog bred to flush and retrieve game from water”), the Poodle, or Pudelhund as they are called (and used) in Germany, is on the list!

George the Old Man Bichon (who just turned 14) can’t stand to get his paddy paws wet if the backyard grass is damp from rain or a sprinkler. This has been a serious issue with our relationship: sending George outside, only to return and squat on the hardwood floor does nothing to endear (endure?) him to me.

We discovered Luna’s addiction to water first with the water bowl. I have never seen a dog put its paws into the water dish (I’m sure it happens!) I have never seen a dog bob in the water for specs of dirt that came off the aforementioned paws. I have never seen a dog grab a water dish in its mouth and carry it around the room, water flying over our once-nice wooden floors. Very strange!

Later, after turning on the sprinkler, we discovered La Luna lying on a very wet rock, very drenched and happily warmed by the hot day. And now when the sprinkler first comes on, she runs to it to lick at the streams and run beneath. And how she enjoys slurping out of the nightly watering can, (trying) to drench our parched herb garden!

Now there’s pool-a-poo. It’s July in the Pacific Northwest, when temperatures run in the 80s and 90s with very little rain. During a recent string of hot days, we concluded a wading pool would be ideal, but all were long gone from the local big box stores. POOR LUNA! Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. With just a day’s notice and a few inches of water, it was love at first sight: absolutely no hesitation to get in, splash around and even lay down in the pool. Now muddy paws are the order of any given evening, as a lovely mud-roll rounds out the spa treatment.

We can’t wait until the Pacific Northwest rainy season sets in right before Halloween. We’ll have a new problem: muddy paw prints.


 

The Old Man Bichon and the Pupka

There’s a whole lotta barkin’ goin’ on!

George the Old Man Bichon has had enough. Once king of the (dog) house, he’s now a live squeaky toy for Luna the Cockapoo.

He’s not happy; his anguished looks and frequent yipping when the Lunapoo wants to play (and show domination) make this crystal clear.

He’s probably also not happy about the disparity between dogs right now:

  • Luna toys: 27, George: 3 (that Luna likes to steal).
  • Luna chews: 10, George: 0.
  • Luna treats: “humainly harvested” wild boar, Gearge: “recycled” wild boar (aka backyard poopa-loopas).
  • Luna’s worries: non-existent, George’s anxieties: 100,000.

Any May-to-September romance idea between George and Luna was doomed before arrival; George is no Hugh Hefner. When George was a young squire, he couldn’t wait until spring when he would try to dominate and inseminate Lily, our First Bichon. Now, In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” The mounter has become the mountee, and we’re not talking Canadians.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we have come to realize, 14 years too late, that George was probably bred for shows and is most happy being on a lap. Luna is anything but a lap dog. Sure, she sits with us on the sofa in the evenings after she has run her brains out. Sure, she’s under someone’s chair at dinner. But velcro she is not.

And now…she is the Alpha. Good luck, George! Karma is a female dog named Luna!

CoCo and the Pupka

There’s a whole lotta hissin’ goin’ on round here!

CoCo at the baby gate.

CoCo, our bombastic Bombay cat, who we sometimes call Co2, has been sounding as if she has a gas leak whenever Luna the Cockapoo gets too close or escapes the kitchen baby gate we forgot to close. Hissssssssssss.

George, the Old Man Bichon, couldn’t be happier: either he’s smiling, thinking the cat is getting her just desserts after all the years of “Whackapoodle” or just thinking, ‘glad it’s not me.’ Luna has been harassing George a bit lately.

Surprisingly, despite a size advantage (CoCo’s 17 lbs to Luna’s 11 lbs.), the dog frightens CoCo. When a passage is available, you can be sure Luna will run to the living room. If CoCo is hanging out, much kitty kursing will go on before the cat runs off and the game is on.

CoCo now hangs out upstairs and Luna runs around unawares.

CoCo – Luna détente.

Funny thing, CoCo was a rescue cat seven years ago and initially lived with big dogs. We have always thought she thinks herself a dog, stomping around the house in the most un-kitty-like fashion. Much like “Skippy Jon Jones,” a fictional Siamese who imagines himself a Chihuahua, CoCo’s imagination doesn’t match her reality— or frailty.

Some day they may be best buds, but right now they are best enemies in the truest “Tom-and-Jerry” sense.

One of our puppy books suggests “the key (to pet family introductions) is to slowly allow the two animals to be comfortable with each other.” Truth be told, CoCo will come up to the gate to sniff Luna. CoCo will also patrol around puppy territory when Luna is temporarily in her pen and/or asleep there.

Coco and Luna: not yet best buds.

We are getting to know Luna’s rhythms: happy-go-lucky in the morning, siesta in the afternoon, extended greetings and a full dinner, then ZOOM! the energy burst kicks in. Cat and dog introductions would make better sense during the down times, but right now CoCo is just too exciting and new to Luna.

We could still consider a Swiss boarding school for learning proper introductions, but Luna doesn’t have all her shots yet and Coco flunked crate class.

Calla lilies are a no-no

Uh-oh, what’s this?? Which dog threw up the Milk Bone treat?

And so began a frantic, all-hands effort to keep Luna the Cockapoo safe in the backyard.

George, the Old Man Bichon, was never one to take any interest in the shrubs. He was less interested in the grass after a rain, preferring to relieve himself indoors, which is very problematic here in Oregon to say the least.

Luna destroys another day lily.

Luna has taken a great liking to lying on several day lilies; at last count there are (were) nearly a dozen day lilies that have thrived for five or more years in our backyard. She thinks chewing the stalks of bear’s breeches is great fun as well. But when she started taking notice of the calla lilies we had planted earlier this spring, we started to distract her.

When she first came home, our daughter who has a personal fear that foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) near the garden are poisonous to her, pointed out a Google search that indicated foxgloves are a toxic plant to dogs. Luna’s care became a tool to dispense with the foxgloves, also planted last year and which were thriving. I moved them.

But we’re also wanting Luna (and our daughter!) to be on her own; independence was a trait we thought we observed in Luna when we were researching Cockapoos (see my earlier blog, “Breeding the right ingredients.”)

Despite our best intentions and during a brief period unsupervised, we found calla lily blooms on the patio that had been Luna-tized. And then there was the half digested Milk Bone next to the calla lily. That and a slightly lethargic dog made us take notice. The vet, with whom we are now on a first name basis, was duly alerted. Many frantic hourly texts and calls later, Luna was very much alive and wanting to play ball.

Luna’s favorite dead lily bed.

Once again, out came the Google searches. Yes, calla lilies are harmful. A brief memorial was held for dead flowers; Luna the most beloved lingered nearby. The surviving calla lilies took new residence in the front yard. So did the azaleas. Now there are moon-sized craters where landscaping once thrived.

Further searches uncovered a longer list of toxic landscaping, care of the ASPCA (click here to read the list). Our daughter is on red alert.

Our backyard may never be the same…

Let’s sit

I will sit for bacon!

We wanted a Cockapoo in part because our research indicated they are pretty smart dogs. Luna has already proven she’s got the potential to be on puppy honor roll.

Steering out-of-control puppy behavior has been a priority from day one, based on life with Bichons. Knowing one’s name, potty training, nipping at George the-Old-Man-Bichon or now chewing on shoes have been our initial training efforts.

Pre-puppy, we pre-ordered treats and bought a cool teat bag on a belt so we’d be ready when she arrived. The treats were a bust — except for Amazon (these treats went home with friends for their pit bull.)

Leftover crumbled bacon was a hit. Within 24 hours of homecoming, she started turning her head when we called “Luna.” We worked on both name recognition and “sit” at the same time. Half the time we call her she automatically sits.

Smarty pants now knows there are treats in the bag; she also almost immediately sits when the bag goes on my waist, hoping it’s training time.

Training goes something like this:

(High-pitched baby voice) “Luna? Luna? LUNA!”

She investigates; George wanders over, stands right next to us.

“Sit Luna. Sit Luna. GOOD GIRL”

(Regular voice) George: “Breathe. GOOD BOY.”

I think we have conquered a few easy tricks. We’re trying to get her to sit and hand out her paw to shake. Our daughter is trying to get her to stand and to spin.

We thought we had potty training nailed, but she’s nailed a particular rug a few times when we weren’t supervising closely; we will have to go back to treats plus praise when she makes the big deposit at the Bank of Grass where she has an account.

Sometimes, sending her to a finishing school isn’t such a bad idea.

Breeding the right ingredients

Breeding conjures up elitist selection, estates and luxury cars with people, but not with dogs.

Breeding in dogs is still about selection, but it’s all about traits, not boarding schools.

  • What color(s)?
  • How big or small?
  • What kind of temperament?
  • What activities will the dog do (hunting, showing, family)?

Several months ago, this was a daily discussion, along with pictures and videos of dogs. Now that wish list is our reality: LUNA!

More important than the outcome is the breeder who puts the parents and ingredients together and cares for the puppies before they arrive at a new home, to fit or terrorize.

Breeding is not an excuse for dogs that don’t behave — many well-bred dogs end up back at the breeder or in shelters because their humans weren’t ready to make the commitment. We have come to realize that training our first two AKC Bichon puppies — and two human pups at the same time — was a bit much even for Type-A parents.

We have also come to realize, 14 years later, that George, the Old Man Bichon, was probably bred for shows. Having a father who was likely his uncle may have contributed to his looks, but also to his odd behaviors; however, he is still a sweet doggie on a lap. Lily, our first bichon who passed away this spring, was from a different breeder with a larger gene pool and more like Luna. We called her our “Heinz 57” dog.

We looked at many Cockapoo breeders, hoping to find one locally, but happily settled on a breeder who was highly recommend by way of testimonials. Cockapoo of Excellence (www.cockapoopuppies.us) provided us not only pictures and videos, but also the reassurance that their dogs matched with us. Temperament was most important: loving but independent, followed by coloring. So we sent (and offer) this testimonial:

Subject: Luna
Thought you might like to see Scott and Luna are enjoying playing catch! She had such a busy day, she curled up and is sound asleep on the cat’s favorite blankets!
I also wanted to say thank you. She is such a love!! As gentle and kind as she is, I know someone loved her, took really good care of her and is probably missing her! Just know she is well loved and we promise to take good care of her. We were all so sad when Lily passed away. It’s nice to know another little angel is here to cuddle and play, so thank you!!

If you’re thinking Cockapoo, send us a note; we’ll tell you our experiences: scottwolff@comcast.net.

Delta is standing by for your Cockapoo.

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.

Homecoming for the Pupka

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.

 

Sometimes, new family members arrive early and in the night.

Luna arrived Thursday, June 14 at 8:21 PM, a day early, due to potentially hot weather at her departing airport.

Our Luna

If she could talk, Luna would probably tell us that service in Cargo Class is not attentive enough, even for Delta. That Wall Street Journal they hand out in first class? It’s shredded and added to the crate downstairs. And don’t even get her started about the inflight treats.

But that doesn’t matter now.

So very cuddly! So very squirmy! So very puppy.

At home, the rest of the family were mustered late to meet Luna.

George the old Bichon: It’s another dog. Can I go to bed? Where’s my treat?

CoCo the bombastic Bombay cat: Waat dey hell! Smells like a dog. Yikes! It runs too! (CoCo has been the least enthusiastic family member so far, making some new yawls when Luna is close. No “Whacka Poodle” game today!)

The at-home daughter: she wanted a kitten instead, but I think she’s warming up.

(More about greetings and adapting in a later blog.)

Such a fluff ball! Such a waggy bundle of energy! Such a love!

We could have had a very long night, but we were surprised: very little whining. She’s since found her bark, but only a couple of little ones.

On her first morning, Luna was up nearly as early as we normally are, at 5:30 am, checking out her world and walking outside past a couple of neighbor houses before coming back. Leash and harness 101 to come.

Knock (or poop) on hardwoods: she has not had an accident inside – yet. And she’s already pointing at the back door when she wants to go out to make a deposit in the Bank of Grass. George hates the grass; Luna rolls in it!

And now there’s fetch. Lunchtime her first day, she and I played with her yellow tennis balls, back and forth. I roll, she lumbers under chairs, slides into the wall and grabs the ball, bringing the ball and a smile right back to me to do it all over.

We’re experimenting with treats and training, but unfortunately, either Blue or Buffalo upsets her so the treats we pre-ordered are a bust so far. We had some left over crumbled bacon that was a hit: we are working on name recognition and sit, with some progress. Glad we didn’t adopt a pig: it’s hard to find dog-flavored treats locally.

Much to her chagrin, Luna “enjoyed” a warm bath (no grooming this time!) After more play, this puppy crashed on CoCo’s favorite blankets.

We’re now her people. And now she’s an Oredogian (not just an Oregonian!)

  

Ready! Set! Go!

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.

Getting ready for a new family member can be hard.

Getting ready for a puppy might be even harder.

Will I be a good puppy parent? What will this dog’s personality be like? Will this dog fit in with our family?

Not for lack of preparation: a dozen or so toys, crates, Blue Mountain puppy food and treats delivered weeks ago, color coordinated harness and leash, treat bag for the humans and even an Oregon State University shirt. But there’s more to get on the list.

And then there’s much studying: We found Zak George training videos and now subscribe and watch often, along with reading his book. Grooming videos remind us of our intent 10 years ago to groom our two bichons; buying the tools (and getting a message from the online store congratulating the start of our grooming business.)

Fifteen years ago, Lily the Bichon arrived, much like Luna will, in a crate on a plane from the Midwest. My first dog. I had never lived with a dog, knew nothing about taking care of one, raising one, taking care of one. Somehow, through the frustrations and confusion, Lily was The Dog my wife and I had hoped she would be: playful, trainable and a companion to our daughters. Eventually, she would spend eight plus years sleeping every night with one girl, then the other.

Not unlike “Hatchi,” a dog that waited for its diseased master every day at a train station, I’m hopeful that Lily will be there every day watching over us, guiding us to be good puppy parents.

Our other four-legged family members won’t be prepared, but will adapt: George, our 14-year, old-man Bichon, and CoCo, our bombastic black Bombay cat. George spends most of his days relaxing in his crate by choice. CoCo was a rescue cat and was socialized with big dogs; she thinks she’s a dog anyway and has never hesitated to casually slap George or Lily when CoCo felt they needed to be put into their place in the pecking order. (I call it her “whack-a-poodle” game.)

Luna will not be Lily. She will not be George or CoCo (CoCo is smiling at this.)  Luna will be a new adventure and, based on the pictures and video from the breeder, we love her already (OK, not so much CoCo.)

Homecoming is June 15.

Dad: an essay

The following is a eulogy for Bernard Wolff (1926-2016) read by Scott Wolff at the Celebration of Life gathering Sunday, April 10, 2016, Agnes Flanagan Chapel, Lewis & Clark College.

WOLFF Essays cover 103 x 150pxAs an introduction, Dad discovered while living at the coast that he could offer a programing suggestion to a local radio station; his suggestion was a joke segment. So the producer asked him to tell a joke on the spot. He told about two sons who were contemplating their responsibility, sooner or later, for planning their mother’s funeral, including what to do with her remains. So when the time seemed right, they asked whether she would want to be buried or cremated. Smiling at her sons, the mother replied, “Surprise me.”

Dad surprised me and other family members about 7-8 years ago when he started sending short essays he was writing about his life’s experiences—sometimes one essay at a time, sometimes several—over the course of 3 or 4 years. I was able to compile many of these essays into a book (click here to read it), which I was able to present to him several years ago. Click on the book cover to read an online version of the entire book at your leisure and from which I’m quoting here.

It’s in one of his essays that he describes his Sacred Places, which was inspired by a sermon he had heard at the Portland Unitarian Church in 2009. He wrote that “sacred is not necessarily God-related. Sacred may refer to something one feels at a different time usually related to a person, place or thing. It may elicit positive memories or emotions, or maybe it’s just a feeling you have.”

Today I’d like to change around Sacred Places to become Dad’s Sacred Traits. Three traits out of the many I could choose are the ones most relevant to me: Family, Education and Service.

Family

Regarding family, Dad quoted from a Unitarian sermon that “you have to have people in your life who care about you and prepare you, as much as possible for today, tomorrow and the future.” Dad went on to write for himself “I believe one shows his or her love by the way that individual behaves, such as care giving to friends and loved ones.”

He was not only devoted to his own family, but also to family around us, often in a caretaking role. In college he dutifully came home from Oregon State to wax the floors for his mother. He would later look after his parents together and separately as their health faded.

He was both devoted to and a caretaker for my mother, who as a young mother fought and overcame polio. They would endure countless medical adventures during her bout with cancer, which would eventually take her life. In between those downtimes — and despite them — were many joys: camping and later owning property on the Wind River in Washington; two active sons; yoga and meditation retreats together; a beach house near Lincoln City.

At a point when both his personal and professional lives were in turmoil, Dad found new directions, first meeting and marrying Carol, then retiring from Lewis & Clark to devote his considerable professional talents back in the elementary classroom. He and Carol would have their own 30 years of experiences.

Dad’s family grew with the addition of Carol’s three grown daughters and Carol’s mother Becky. He was devoted to her comfort, including her on trips to the beach and moving her to live next door in an adjoining SE Portland duplex until her passing. Dad also helped care for Carol’s middle daughter Rebecca, whose life was altered by an automobile accident in Idaho. He and Carol spent weeks in Idaho during her convalescence and then watched over her during the years she lived independently in Portland-area assisted living situations until her passing two years ago.

Besides the devotion and caretaking, there were also many skills and lessons he taught me directly as a father, but there were many other traits and attitudes that I observed that perhaps have served me as well or better.

He instilled in me this creative sense to think outside the box—before there was even a box to consider. He built a playhouse—more like a shed—in our back yard and covered it with aluminum offset printing press sheets recycled by our neighbor. It could have been disguised as an Airstream trailer. And, rather than using cardboard from a box, he fashioned a real shield for me for a Knights of the Roundtable theme at Cub Scouts meeting using another aluminum sheet —including on it a family-crest stencil he created—nothing else at the event came close. Rather than just digging a hole in the forest, he built a pre-fab outhouse at home for the Wind River property, fashioning it after the forest service variety in shape and color.  I can’t go forward with a graphic design or remodeling project without considering the extreme options.

He helped me overcome awkward social situations. My wife Concetta and I debate whether Dad was an introvert or extrovert. What I do know is that he could walk into a room of strangers and introduce himself to everyone before the start of a meeting. As a result, while growing up, he would see someone he knew nearly every time we were at a restaurant. I don’t know if it came to him naturally or it was learned, but I remember thinking in high school at an event that I could do it too—wow, it really caught people off guard in a positive way—I was hooked. It’s still not natural for me, but I invoke him before networking events as part of my marketing profession.

He also taught me that it isn’t enough to work hard and enjoy one’s time off. The community needs our help and skills, and so he served others.

I have no doubt that he sincerely loved me – and I loved him.

Education

About education, Dad wrote that teaching is ‘increasing the probability that learning will take place.’

Dad mentioned to me that one of his many motivations for a career in education came from a Montavilla Methodist pastor who had observed Dad teaching Sunday school there while he was in high school, telling him how well he worked with the younger children.

Dad’s path to a career in education would not be a straight one. Graduating from OSU with a Zoology degree, he instead leveraged his years working at Sheridan Fruit to start a box business with a co-worker, only to be drafted six months later at the start of the Korean War. (Similarly, his father too had started a business by purchasing a pharmacy in Multnomah Village in the early 1920s, but was forced to sell a short time later to move to his family to Colorado to mitigate my grandmother’s tuberculosis.)

He was proud to know there are 3 more OSU Beavers in the family— granddaughters Erin and Leslie who are Chris’ daughters as well as my daughter Allegra.

Following Dad’s 2 years – and one day – in the army, he and Sara Lee, now his wife, moved to Portland in 1952 where he could pursue a short program at Portland State College—which had previously been Vanport College—to earn a teaching certificate. They moved to Newport for his first teaching position in Toledo, and to begin a family with the arrival of my brother Chris. Once again, the career path was interrupted by Sara Lee’s contraction of polio, forcing the three to Portland for her care.

Limited teaching jobs filled the void until he accepted a full time teaching position at Forest Hills Elementary in Lake Oswego, proudly one of the first male teachers leading a primary class and breaking a different kind of glass ceiling. He was hired in 1962 by Lewis & Clark for a 25-year adventure, not without its bumps along the way.

“I believe you have to take some risks in challenging authority without knowing what the costs may be,” he wrote. This is certainly true when he joined faculty members in their vote of no confidence of the president of this institution, who would later be dismissed by the Board.

He managed to teach and increasingly take care of not only his parents, but also Sara Lee as she developed cancer and later passed away in 1982, the year I graduated from Lewis & Clark. He would be proud to know that my daughter Ariana is interested in becoming the third generation Wolff at Lewis & Clark.

Service

About service, Dad wrote, “I believe that having a community to be with that has a spiritual focus and a community outreach is essential to support one on his or her spiritual journey.” I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t going off to a board meeting, to volunteer, or to remind church members to bring food items for FISH Emergency Service.

Service was spiritual, perhaps the most outward sign of his devotion to God through his gifts of his time and talents. It was certainly more telling than any commitment to an organized church, which he thought stifled spiritual growth; however at one time or another he was a member of or attended Montavilla Methodist Church in SE Portland; St. John’s Episcopal Church in Toledo, Oregon; First United Methodist here in Portland; Koinonia House at Portland State University; Tillamook United Methodist; and, First Unitarian Church here in Portland.

Chris and I joined him occasionally when he volunteered; I would spend a summer internship at FISH, sponsored by First United Methodist and inspired by his service there. I’ve tried to continue his example with my own daughters by serving the homeless downtown.

A few of the many organizations he served included: The Everett Street Drop-in Center in Old Town where he would spend an entire night socializing and serving coffee at the shelter, the aforementioned FISH Emergency Service where he was not only a board member, but periodically served on Saturday afternoons handing out emergency food rations. He served on committees with the Oregon Education Association and the National Education Association, gleefully breaking tradition to join a national education sorority; when required to introduce himself and describe a unique attribute at his first meeting, he told the audience he was a father. He served the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League. His volunteering at Arleta Elementary in Portland turned into a part-time classroom aid position where he would write grants to fund computer equipment and teacher development. He and my mother served on numerous First United Methodist Church committees; together and separately they taught many Sunday school classes throughout his life. My wife groans when she thinks of him leading my sixth grade sex-education class at the church. Later he volunteered overseas, traveling with Carol to a halfway house in Cork, Ireland, a Habitat for Humanity project in New Zealand, and to a school in Costa Rica.

I like to think that Dad’s many gifts of family, education and service were used wisely and for others, returning those gifts with increase.

I close with this: the following is a modified version of a tribute to Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, a martyred priest in El Salvador. Dad might be appalled that I invoked the Catholic Church at his memorial, but the words speak to me about the life we live and the one lived by Dad.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Thank you for reading.