Friday, January 9, 2009

Mozart and Dolce

After Christmas, we were lucky enough to go to Highlands, N.C., with Brent's family for a mini-vacation in the mountains. We stay in a great house off Little Bear Pen Road (this is our second year in the same house), which is great on its own, but was made even greater when I learned one of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy, and his wife - also a great author - Cassandra King, spent a summer in it a few years ago. According to a framed note in the house, he made much progress on his next novel (Um, I'mmmm waiting.....that was a while ago!!) and she completed Queen of Broken Hearts, which I've yet to read, although I plan to. But, I digress... 

Just like our trip to Highlands last winter, we were greeted on our first day there by nasty rain (last year this presented a bigger problem though, because we had literally just gotten Millie days before and she came with us. That was a lot of standing around in the rain waiting on a dog to go potty every 20 minutes! This time she stayed with her now-inside-dog-loving grandparents, so we were slightly less annoyed with the weather). But, the rain did not stop us from venturing into the town to go shopping anyway. Almost immediately after parking downtown, we came upon a store that we may not have entered but for this cute greeter....

No, that is not Millie. Meet Mozart. We instantly fell in love with this 9-month-old, male English Cream Golden Retriever. His owners refer to him as "Mo," but Brent and I affectionately refer to him as Millie's brother (despite no known or suspected relation, other than the obvious). Mo was sitting on the stoop just outside a store, minding his own business and not wandering around the town (as we all know Millie would be doing, which is why she wouldn't be out on a stoop!). We chatted with his owners - who are as enamored with him as we are Millie - for a very long time and pointed out all the similarities between him and Millie (I'm sure of it that they cared, really sure, right?). He looks a little different from her because he's a lot younger and all his nice, white fluffy (OK...dust-bunny-creating, vacuum-clogging...) hair has not come in yet. In looking back at pictures of Millie when she was 9 mos., she was thinner-haired than she is now as well. 

Millie at 9 mos.:

English Creams are not all that common (even though Oprah and Nicollette Sheridan are also proud owners), and other than the times we've visited breeders before we found Millie, we've never seen another one in person (or "in dog," however you might reference that). Mozart made us very happy (and made us miss our pups). But, he helped get our vacation off to a great start. So, we finally peeled ourselves away from him, did some shopping and headed back to the house.

Later that night, we were in the kitchen getting ready for dinner when we were summoned to the back door by a loud but confident barking sound. Did Mozart like us that much that he climbed the mountain to come visit us? Nope, not quite. But that would have been cool. Instead, it was a different visitor from the retriever family. 

Last year, we noticed a newspaper article and photo of a beautiful black lab. The owners indicated she is the neighborhood dog, very friendly and may be stopping by for some treats, which they left in the cupboard. We never got to see her last year. This year, however, she made her presence known. 

Meet Dolce. Knowing she was friendly, and knowing she was definitely there for treats, we opened the door and let her in. She must have just come from the groomer because she was freshly bathed, super soft and sporting the obligatory festive bandana. Sure enough, she knew exactly where to go and was willing to sit, lay down, do whatever for a treat. My niece and nephew also shared their dinner with her (ok, so did I...sorry owners!) so Dolce was well fed and watered, and not surprisingly, a little reluctant to leave when it was time. We were fortunate enough to have her visit a few other times before we left. So much so that my sister-in-law purchased some new Milkbones for the house before we left since Dolce polished off their supply. We were glad Dolce decided to come visit (so is she!). And next year (or sooner), if we are lucky enough to go on the trip and stay in the same house, we hope we get to see both Dolce and Mozart again!

Headed to Highlands and want to meet Mozart "in dog?" I wish I knew the name of his owners' store, but I do know the entryway to the store is just beneath the sign for Raspberry Fizz - a pottery place that I'm not even sure is still open - on the main drag in downtown Highlands. He'll be waiting for you just outside the door!

As for Dolce, you'll have to find "Still Magic," stay a few days there yourself and hope for a bark at the back door.

Here are some more fun pics of these cute pups:

Chemo No More

I'm happy to report that just before Christmas, we decided to take Bailey off of chemo. Our goal at the onset was to help her get better without messing too much with her quality of life. We realized after just 3 treatments that she was unhappy, sickly, miserable and in pain. That was all the proof we needed. Within days, she showed significant improvements and today, I'm happy to report she is 100% back to her pre-chemo self, begging and all. We love it that way though...we know we made the best decision for our almost 91-year old!