Saturday, September 15, 2007

Four Legged Friends Challenge

OK...I know I said I was going to stay away from challenges. But this one is different. This past week, my good friend Kelly at Kailana's Written World, lost her beloved dog Sandy. Sandy was her constant companion for the last 13 years, and to honor her, Kelly came up with the "Four Legged Friends Challenge". The Challenge officially begins on Sept. 20th and runs for 5 months. Read 3 - 5 books dealing with animals. Since I love animals, especially dogs, this should be an easy challenge.

In addition to the challenge, we are supposed to post about your beloved pets. So here it is!! I grew up on a farm, so I was surrounded by four-legged creatures at an early age!! We had lots of cattle, a few horses, dogs and cats. But my cats weren't house cats. I remember the day my dad took me to get my first kittens. A neighbor was giving them away, and I got 2 of the cutest gray tabbies. Bonnie and Clyde were the first.....but from then on, we had cats all the time. My favorite was a large black cat named Dracula. He would curl up in my lap anytime I was outside reading. My dad finally broke down and got me one house cat. She was a little Siamese named Skittles, but she wasn't nearly as friendly as the farm cats. She had an attitude!! She used to hide under the china cabinet in the dining room and swipe at my dad as he walked by!! He SO hated the decision to get her! Our dogs were the same. Mostly just big farm dogs.

But the week after I got married, my aunt called me and said her Chow, Sugar, had her puppies. If I wanted one, we could have one. So Mike and I took a day trip to her house. There were 4 puppies left. 2 all black males, and 2 brown females. I had my heart set on one of the fluffy females, but Mike liked the littlest black one. He was "anti-social" and didn't play well with others....just like Mike!! So we brought home a little puffy black puppy, that was a Chow/Lab mix. That was 13 years week. Ninja has been the best dog I've ever had. My aunt Peggy is amazed we still have him. He is losing his sight and his hearing, and has slowed down....alot! But he has been a wonderful dog and loves my kids with all he has! Even with his sometimes unpredictable Chow temperament, he has never one time gotten angry with one of them.

3 1/2 years ago, my husband got it in his head we needed a puppy for the kids for Easter. And not just any puppy. A St. Bernard. I really don't think he ever actually WATCHED the movie Beethoven! So we found a breeder about 4 hours from us and took off. That is how Rocco entered the Toland clan. He has since grown to be a moose, topping the scales at 174 lbs! But he is the sweetest dog ever. My youngest daughter, Ana, is particularly close to him, as you can see in this picture. Whenever she is around, so is Rocco. When she was about 3 years old, her godfather came to visit. Now Aaron is my best friend and he loves my kids dearly. He has been Uncle Aaron since the day they were born, and he is as close to me as my own brother. We have a 4 season room added to our walk-out basement. It has tall windows on 3 sides. When Aaron walked in, he picked up Ana and started throwing her up in the air. She was laughing and screaming (with joy, just so you know!) Rocco was right outside the windows. He started barking and running along the side of the house. He was literally trying to jump through the windows, thinking Ana was being hurt. To this day, Aaron is afraid Rocco might eat him!!

They can be big pains in the butt sometimes, but I honestly don't know what I would do without them!!

So...the books I picked out for the challenge are a mixture of old classics and new books! Most are YA, so they'll be quicker reads.

  • Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
  • My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey


Becky said...

Great stories, great pics!

Kailana said...

We brought Sandy home 12 years next week. :) That's why the challenge starts next week, actually.

So happy you are joining in!

Chris said...

I'm in love with your dogs Steph! They're awesome :) You picked some great books. I have Watership Down on my list too...I went to buy it last night and was surprised by the length of it! I was expecting a little tiny book!

DesLily said...

oh my.. tears well up even thinking about "where the red fern grows"! I don't think I could handle sad books right now..whew, but its a great list!

I'll be looking to hear how Anne McCaffrey's little book is.. I have one of her "tiny fairytales" and it was really good..just too much money for such a tiny book.

Stephanie said...

Becky - Thanks!! I have so many pictures of them, but these are a couple of my favorites!

Kelly - Oops. I said 13 years. My anniversary is Monday. Peggy gave us Ninja as one of our wedding presents (because I told her we were going to get a dog). He's been with us every since.

Chris - Thanks!! They ARE a handful sometimes. I won't even go into the times I've taken Rocco to the the groomers and he's decided he just doesn't want to go home yet. Ever tried to pick up the dead weight of a St. Bernard?? It took 4 guys from Petsmart to pick his big booty up!!

I picked mostly YA books because I thought they would be quicker reads. I thought Watership Down was a little book too!!

Deslily - I haven't read Where a Red Fern Grows! Ack!! I passed on Old Yeller thinking that one would be too sad!! Maybe I should rethink this a little! The Anne McCaffrey book looked really good!

Nicola said...

Great choices! I've read them all except the last two. Looking forward to your reviews. We just finished WTP recently as a read-aloud, hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Stephanie said...

Nicola - Winnie the Pooh is one of my very favorite characters. I haven't read the original, but many many Pooh books to my daughter. In fact, Pooh is on TV as I write this!

Dewey said...

I love your choices! I hope you have fun with this. :)

Stephanie said...

Dewey - I love animals, so I think this will be a fun challenge (if I don't end up crying too much!)

Melody said...

Thanks for sharing, Stephanie! :)
Not sure if I'd participate in this challenge...I'll have to check my pile though. You have a great list there! :D

MyUtopia said...

What cute dogs! I miss having a dog.

* Check out my big announcement on my blog

The Beast Mom said...

Hi there!
I stumbled upon your blog via your post on an 80's coming of age novel. Have you read "Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell? I think it's the best COA novel set in the 80's. It's set in England to boot so you'll get a completely different national perspective of that era. Just another book idea for you even though you seem to have plenty to read already!

-beast mom

Trish said...

Beautiful dogs!! And thanks for sharing the fun stories. Where the Red Fern Grows was one of my favorites growing up. Have fun with the challenge!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thanks for letting me know about this challenge. I stopped reading your post so I could go join up! Now I'm back to read the rest of it and the comments. My post about joining the challenge is here:

Also, Oprah has made a mess of the book clubs, in my opinion, so I'm starting Book Buddies here on blogspot. Come take a look, and give me any suggestions you can think of:

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