The dog blog: An unauthorized autobidography by Michleen Collins

Michleen Collins Dog Blog:

Spunky & Jasmine

Spunky & Jasmine

Jasmine – the one on the right – was the first addition to my sister’s household. Her sidekick, Spunky, would tag along later.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Running Circles Around St. Peter and the Pearly Gates

PearlyGates500k_aquabluejay_deviantartShetland Sheepdog (Sheltie, Miniature Collie)
Origin: Scotland
Size: Medium
Group: Herding
Life Span: 12-13 years
Active, playful, affectionate, gentle, intelligent, alert, lively, loyal, reserved, trainable, responsive, strong, a very good shepherd, hardy, in good shape, a wide field of vision, loyal, intelligent, reliable.

Spunky died in November of 2014. His pack still misses him a lot. He had all the Sheltie-typical traits listed above, plus Spunky-specific tendencies, such as …

  • Learning about stairs and Post-it notes,
  • Eating JUST the pepperonis on unattended pizzas,
  • Walking backwards and barking when his favorite humans talked to him,
  • Being rambunctious, yet standing statue-still when someone was petting him,
  • Running giant, open-field figure-8’s with his sidekick Jasmine … flaunting impressive speed and elegance, almost as if they’d been choreographed,
  • Making room for Simba,
  • Preferring to stay inside on hot summer days, chilling under a shady desk or near a breezy air-conditioning vent, and
  • Unlike Jasmine – who considered the postman and other strangers her nemeses – befriending pretty much everybody.

Spunky showed up unleashed when Jasmine was accustomed to being an only dog. Jazz sometimes seemed annoyed by having an exuberant “be my friend, be my friend, pleeeaase be my friend” puppy around. But they grew to be buddies and – even though Jazz would never admit it – we think she liked having company. Especially whenever the humans abandoned the pack and left the two feisty pups home alone. spunky_lawnchair_cu_bw_cr

Jasmine and Spunky outpaced their breed’s average lifespan, and each lived to be 14. Not a bad run. That’s almost 100 in doggie-years. Many pet-lovers believe God will recreate their pets – memories, personality quirks and all – in Heaven. If so, the dynamic duo of Spunky and Jasmine are no doubt together again, running jubilant, arthritis-free circles around Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates.

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Trick-or-Treat Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

dog costume 500

Cheer up reluctant (dressed-up or not) pups. Bake pumpkin Halloween dog biscuits just for them.

Jay Leno famously opposes dressing up dogs for Halloween or anytime. Many pet owners and pets agree. Even so, some pets will reluctantly tolerate a scarf, cape or hat anyway, if only to appease their owners.

Costumed or not, why not reward good dogs for their year-round loyalty? Surprise them with fresh pumpkin treats just for dogs. Most will be happy to show off their favorite tricks in exchange for these sweet and tasty pumpkin treats. (Recipe below.)

Pet expert Cesar Millan counts pumpkin snacks among his list of 11 “dog-approved” people foods. (See warning tips below.) Most pet pros advise giving small amounts of any new food first, as well as checking with a veterinarian. Every dog is unique and some may have allergies or other reactions.

The following recipe from Rachel Ray is simple, sweet and smooth. It’s rich in beta-carotene, too, but don’t tell the pups it’s good for them.

Rachel Ray’s Pupkin Biscuits Recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 1/2 cups white or whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, stir together the eggs, pumpkin puree, milk powder and flour; add 2 tsp. water, or enough so that the dough just comes together.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes with 1-inch cookie cutters. Gather the scraps, combine, roll and form more biscuits; repeat until all the dough is used.
  3. Place the biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over and bake until hardened, another 20 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes.

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Squirrel 1, Hawk 0

This furry little crunch-time strategist has quite the story to tell, worthy of sharing with generations of grand-squirrels for years to come.

Hi, I’m Spunky and I’m the guest dog-blogger and film reviewer today.

Even I, a card-carrying squirrel-hater, have to grudgingly salute this literally over-the-top film, its producer and, above all, its leading-critter. He is a remarkably clever, gutsy, quick and agile little squirrel.

Even I, an avid squirrel chaser, had to feel empathy and grudging respect for the little Olympic-class evader. In an epic performance with a formidably accomplished hawk, he steals the show.

In a spirit of solidarity with all creatures great and small, and the thrill of the chase (I wouldn’t know what to do with a squirrel if I actually caught one), two paws up. I commend and recommend this film, its cinematographer and its unscripted stars.

The squirrel deserves a gold medal in a newly created event:

The World-Class Undercover Tree-Climbing CIA/Animal Division, Olympic High-Bar/Parallel Bar, Pole-Vaulting, High-Jump, Branch-Hurdle Steeple-Chasing 5000-Meter Predatory-Bird Dodging Heptathlon – Small Rodents Category.

But we know he’d just bury the medal.

The hawk makes an impressive showing, too. He is a reminder that, although I’d never admit it to my humans, being a well-sheltered “house pet” isn’t such a bad life after all!

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Smoky the 4-Pound, 4-Legged War Legend

by Spunky

A Memorial Day tribute to veterans and the loyal war dogs who encouraged them … especially through times of turmoil.


Smoky knew over 100 tricks. Unfortunately, talking wasn’t one of them.

In earlier posts, I may or may not have referred to that little red-headed Yorkie in my pack as my nemesis.

But we’re learning to get along. Especially now that my best-buddy Jasmine has gone to that big sunflower field in the sky. (I’m pretty sure there are no squirrels, cats or mail-carriers there.)

Actually, for a small overly inquisitive breed, Yorkies aren’t all that bad. Case in point is a famous little World War II era Yorky named Smoky.

She became part of WWII legends. She helped to shed light on war dogs and the role of man’s BFF during wartime and its aftermath.

In the midst of the war, a GI discovered Smoky in an abandoned foxhole in New Guinea. The smart, amiable and conveniently portable pup was small enough to fit into a soldier’s helmet, boots or duffel bag.

Smoky was soon adopted by another GI, Bill Wynne, an aerial photographer. He took the pup wherever he went, including 12 air-rescue missions. When Wynne was hospitalized, his buddies brought Smoky to visit. This cheered up Wynne and other wounded troops as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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“I Hate Squirrels,” by Spunky


“Squirrels lack humility.” – Spunky

Hi. My name is Spunky, and I’m the guest dog-blogger today.

You may have heard that January 21st is National Squirrel Appreciation Day. On this day, I want to express my solidarity with card-carrying squirrel-haters everywhere who think that whoever came up with the idea for this national event is, well, nuts.

I don’t know why anyone would want to tolerate – much less appreciate – squirrels. (With one raptor-dodging exception.)

Unless, perhaps, for the sheer fun of chasing them. They are fast. And dodgy. In addition to their scientifically proven tendencies to lie, cheat and steal, they like to taunt and run. I have never actually caught a squirrel. I know of a very large dog who did once. This was only after the squirrel darted back and forth along the top of the deck wall. He chattered, hissed and generally mocked the large dog. The big, angry and sharp-jawed canine appeared to be – to the squirrel anyway – safely hemmed in by the wall.

This wasn’t the brightest squirrel in the family tree. It did not end well for the squirrel. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Jasmine” – the Just-Right Name

Jasmine symbolizes life, love, happiness, nobility, grace and elegance.

Over 14 years ago, a small Sheltie charmed her way into a new pack. Names were discussed in a collaborative effort to find a suitable moniker for this personable and peppy new pup.

En route to Jasmine’s new home, her pack tried on many perfectly good names for size. Everyone liked the name “Jasmine.” Even then, before anyone really knew her, it seemed to fit.

After all these years, it’s nice to know that – in addition to her Disney princess namesake – the name Jasmine is derived from the Persian yasmin, which means “gift from God.”

Portraits of a Dog’s Life

Jasmine’s arrival may or may not have been providential. Many have noted that coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. She was, in many ways, a gift. Her life was preceded and concluded by two similar and timely gifts from relatives in her human pack who’d never met. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Calm Panicky Pets (and their Owners)

Panic-Free Pet

Spunky and Jasmine never met their adopted cousin Whiskey. He was a beautiful, whiskey-colored mixed-breed dog who resembled an Irish Setter.

Whiskey’s Irish Setter appearance may be why he received a card one St. Patrick’s Day. It featured a photo of an Irish Setter. The handsome dog sported a green button that read: “Pet me, I’m Irish.” Whiskey’s clever owner responded on Whiskey’s behalf. The reply included a similar button, customized for Whiskey. It read: “Pet me, I sortof look like an Irish Setter.”

Whatever his heritage, to say that Whiskey had separation anxiety and abandonment issues would be an understatement. He was simply heartbroken and often terrified when his trusted pack of humans left him home alone. The occasional thunderstorm only ratcheted up his terror level to sad and often frantic proportions.

One day, during a particularly severe storm, Whiskey literally broke through a glass pane and survived his impulsive leap from a second-story window.  After that, his veterinarian prescribed a sort of doggie-Prozac for future use during especially traumatic circumstances.

Thundershirt™  May Help Panic-Prone Pets Read the rest of this entry »

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Safety Tips for Fireworks and Pets. (Spunky Says Ditto-Arf!) Fireworks Safety Reminder

If you’re a pet-fan, you know that fireworks can scare some furry friends into a full-fledged anxiety attack. A few easy precautions can keep the festivities going with minimal trauma.

Just ask Spunky. One Fourth of July while vacationing with his pack, a loud burst of fireworks spooked Spunky and sent the panicked pet bolting into unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, he was eventually found hiding in someone’s garage, to the great relief of Spunky and his pack.

Bright flashing lights and thunder-like noises can cause even the bravest pets to panic. They may even run away from their home. reports that July is the busiest season for shelters trying to rescue lost pets. During fireworks season, simple precautions can help everyone enjoy the celebrations while preventing scared or lost pets.

The site offers a few simple steps for an unfrazzled Fourth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy 14th and Last Birthday, Jasmine

Goodbye, Jasmine. For a dog who was – most of the time – sugar, spice and everything nice, this post is for you. It’s a special, Thanksgiving cinnamon, nutmeg, ice-cream and pumpkin-pie-shake salute to Jazz.

Your pack is grateful for your life, loyalty and companionship.

You were indeed a “good dog!” 

Jasmine turned 14 on the 14th of Nov., 2011. (That’s about 98 in dog years.) Her pack of people and pups helped mark the occasion. She was mercifully unaware that this would be her 14th – and last – of many dog-gone good, dog-year birthdays.

Like most dogs, she accepted whatever life threw her way. That was true whether it was the fast-ball exuberance of youth, the slow-ball frailty of old age, or the hard-ball reality of death.

Dogged Determination Despite Fading Faculties

Over time, Jasmine became less agile in her daily activities, such as guarding the pool, running just for the thrill of it, or chasing intrusive geese, squirrels or deliverymen.

Gradually, other health issues emerged. She lost some of her formerly boundless energy and agility, but never her spirit, heart and will. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are you SURE your dog is home alone?

If someone were to accuse a pet of being a hacker, one might assume they were talking about:

  1. a cat with a hairball,
  2. a dog with a tendency to swallow first and think later, or
  3. a parrot owned by someone with hay fever.

However, there’s another type of hacker that’s far more serious. That is a pet who is smart enough to know where the credit cards are buried. This undercover “Dog Goes Shopping” video catches a particularly clever pup/hacker in the act.

Paying for contraband dog toys, snacks and more is easy enough for pets with unsuspecting owners. Some pets shop at home. Others go to trendy, pet-friendly coffeeshops. Still others go straight to the store to fetch some treats.

Although security experts advise against it, many people still use a pet’s name as all or part of their passwords.  So it’s not rocket science for a smarter-than-average pet to crack a PIN, master a keyboard and learn to type, for example, “beef jerky.” Others just nab the credit card, hit the doggie-door, scale the fence (or tunnel out) and return before their humans can say, “Who ordered 3 chew toys, 2 boxes of rawhide, 4 cat videos and 8 packages of bacon?”

Jasmine and Spunky have not (to anyone’s knowledge) gone on a shopping spree with their owners’ credit cards. However, pet owners everywhere may want to check the security camera at their local pet store. They might recognize some especially familiar patrons.

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