Skip to content

Victory: A Birthday Celebration — 11 years

October 12, marked nine years since we adopted our sweet dear little Victory!  The time is going by much too quickly!  We decided to make October 12 Victory’s birthday — the day we went to Michigan and adopted our sweet fur girl.

As such, we recently celebrated Victory’s birthday marking her ninth year with us since her adoption!  This also marks five years celebrating as a ‘big sister’ to Alex!  This year, for Victory’s birthday, we did a personalized fall themed and pastel themed birthday! (As shown below, last year, we did a personalized theme and a pastel theme; two years ago pink theme with gold accent; three years we did a pastel rainbow theme with a silver accent; four years ago we did pastel theme with a gold and silver accent; five years ago we did a gold and champagne theme; six years ago we did a light pink and gold themed birthday; seven years ago we did a pink themed birthday; and eight years ago, we did rainbow themed birthday for Victory!)  For this double-digit birthday, we had another small cake made with Victory’s likeness, with a fall twist — Victory peering out of a pumpkin! It turned out beautifully! We also purchased some fun decorations and balloons, along with a light pink sweater for Victory, a tradition, in honor of her birthday!  Victory also enjoyed a Snake River Farms steak prepared by Doug, along with her very own cupcake (with no icing, of course!) Victory looked absolutely adorable and beautiful on her birthday, as always, shown below!  This is the fifth birthday that Victory celebrated with her sidekick, Alex! It is wonderful to witness their relationship blossom as Alex grows older. Alex loves giving Victory treats and hugs (with supervision!) Victory had a fun birthday and she truly enjoyed being over fed and the center of attention! I sincerely believe Victory knows her birthdays are all about her!

We are truly the lucky ones to share our lives with this wonderful, loyal, and loving being. Victory has been such a source of comfort to us all. She is always by our side, and I have enjoyed working from home full time with her since COVID. Victory has also fully embraced her ‘big sister’ role!  Victory is very attuned to her little sister and loves to greet Alex in the mornings and evenings!  It melts our hearts!  Victory continues to join us each morning and evening for play time and story time, in addition to all feedings!  We also do our best to keep Victory fully integrated in our outings as well, and we had a fun fall together with many outings together!  We are so very grateful and thankful for our Victory.  She means the world to us and we love her very much.

For Victory’s birthday, we gave her: a Snake River Farms steak; a customized Yeti water bowl with her name on it; treats; and a new light pink sweater! Additionally, Alex also made some art for Victory!

(All birthday decorations are via Sweet Lulu.)

Here is a video of the girls celebrating our fur girl, Victory!

A look back at Victory’s birthday celebrations over the years…

Here is a look back at Victory on her birthdays!

If you are considering getting a dog, I hope that you consider adopting a rescue dog.  There are so many dogs in need of a good, loving home, especially now. As shown below, Victory, a rescue, has changed so much physically and emotionally over the years since we adopted her, pictured on the left (image from Victory’s foster mom via the Michigan Sheltie Rescue).  You really can save a dog’s life, while simultaneously enriching your own life/lives. We cannot imagine not having a rescue dog in our lives!

Happy Halloween from our Rainbows!

Happy Halloween!  Halloween is one of our favorite times of the year!  We love the fall season!  This is Alex’s fifth Halloween! Victory is a rainbow this year for Halloween along with her little sister, Alex, shown below! Victory (along with Alex) was a peacock last year; Crayola red crayon two years ago; Victory (along with Alex) was Super Woman three years ago; a unicorn (with Alex) four years ago; Wonder Woman five years ago; a fifties girl six years ago; a lioness seven years ago; a butterfly eight years ago; and a ladybug for her first Halloween, nine years ago.

Here is Doug and Alex’s pumpkin, which they worked diligently on this year, shown below! Alex picked the butterfly to carve this year, but Doug did most all of the magical pumpkin work!

Additionally, here are links to other pumpkins carved by Doug: last year; two years ago; three years agofour years agofive years agosix years agoseven years agoeight years agonine years ago; and ten years ago!

Here is a short video of the lit pumpkin that Doug carved for us this year! He did a great job, as always!

Additionally, here is a look back at Victory and Alex over the years on Halloween!

Preserving Your Child’s Artwork Forever

This fall, I recently made a book of all of Alex’s preschool Artwork. I had saved so much of her artwork, from preschool, and I wanted to find a way to save it without holding onto every piece of her artwork, if you know what I mean. So, I bought some white foam board and used my iPhone and photographed and edited the pieces that I wanted to save, to include in this book. I made a 70 page book of all of her preschool work, approximately 138 pieces of her artwork, via OnceUpon, and I selected that matte paper option. The book turned out well, it is simple in design, and it was not too expensive as compared to other places where you can make books.

The best part is — I printed one of these books for Alex, and she loves looking at her art via this book, and it is also a way to encourage her to keep making her beautiful art, which she loves to make, regularly! The arts are really important, and we hope to keep fostering this love within Alex. I hope to make yearly books of her artwork as a way of preserving her artworks!

New Study: Dogs Can Smell When We Are Stressed

Have you heard this interesting news about dogs? In an experiment, dogs were surprisingly accurate in detecting sweat and breath samples from people who were stressed.

It has been widely believed that dogs can detect extreme emotions by smell. Now scientists at Queen’s University Belfast in the U.K. have proven that a dog’s nose knows.

Acute stress changes the compounds found in human sweat and breath, research has shown. For the new experiment, four dogs were presented with sweat and breath samples collected from human volunteers — before and after the people engaged in a difficult math exercise.

The canine participants were able to detect with a greater than 90 percent accuracy which samples came from before and which came from after the 36 human volunteers had spent three minutes trying to count backward, aloud, according to the report published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One.

“This study provides further evidence of the extraordinary capabilities of ‘man’s best friend,’” said the study’s first author, animal psychologist Clara Wilson.

“While it is likely that in a real-life context dogs are picking up on our stress from a variety of context cues, we have shown using a laboratory study that there is a confirmed odor component that is likely contributing to dogs’ ability to sense when we are stressed,” Wilson said in an email. 

For their study, Wilson and her colleagues first set out to train a variety of 20 pet dogs to point with their noses at samples from a person who was stressed. (By the end of the training period, 16 dogs had been withdrawn for a variety of reasons, including attention issues and boredom.)

The researchers tested the trained dogs with a machine that offered three choices: an unused piece of gauze, a sample from a stressed person and one from the same person when unstressed.

The researchers also collected before and after measurements of heart rate and blood pressure and responses to the questionnaires that asked about the volunteers’ stress levels before and after the math task.

The dogs’ accuracy at detecting the stress samples — from 90 percent to 96.88 percent — was even better than the researchers anticipated.

Knowing that chemical changes in sweat and breath can result from stress, it was expected the dogs might be able to smell the difference, Wilson said. “However we were still surprised the first time the dogs were shown the pre-and post-math task samples and confidently discriminated between them.”

One thing the research doesn’t reveal is whether dogs feel empathy when a person is stressed.

“Because the dogs were trained with positive reinforcement to find their target, they were visibly excited when they found it in the line-up, rather than showing any kind of stress themselves,” Wilson said.

She compared it to dogs who can smell cancer by picking out breath samples in a line-up. Future studies can investigate whether smell is an important part of a dog’s perception of human emotions, Wilson said.

For further information, please see this article and this article.  

Photo Credit: Queens University Belfast.

Victory: Blessing of the Animals

It is Victory’s birthday today, and she is eleven years old! It is difficult to believe that we have had our precious Victory for nine years! October 12 is the day we adopted her from the Michigan Sheltie Rescue. This past weekend, we had a wonderful fall birthday celebration with a custom cake with a fall themed three-dimensional rendering of Victory on top of the cake, balloons, and decorations for our fur girl, Victory! (When I get a chance to edit these photos, I will share, more, soon!)

Importantly, we recently attended the Blessing of the Animals at Alex’s school. We have never attended such an event, so it was really fun to witness Victory receive a blessing. Doug also gave a reading, shown immediately below. And, we were given a certificate to take home with Victory’s blessing. Victory did well, and I am certain she knew that this event was all about her!

Reading: But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the planets of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of God has done this? In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.

Here is a video our Victory getting ready for her blessing.

Here is a video our Victory receiving her blessing.

The Blessing of each animal: Victory, we give thanks for your life and companionship. May you be blessed in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that you and your family may find joy in your life together. Amen.”

Shown below are a few photos from the Blessing of the Animals.

Fourteen Years In

14 years of marriage.  18 years together.  4 years of parenting a little human together. 9 years of loving and taking care of our fur girl together. You are my favorite human being. You are always by my side, and supportive through everything.  You are the greatest gift of my life, and each day spent with you is truly a gift.  I look forward to many, many more years together, knowing that we can get through anything together. Most of all, you are an incredible Daddy to our girls! We are all so blessed.  I am truly grateful for you. Happy fourteenth anniversary!

Remembering Nick

It is with a heavy heart to share that my parents’ rescue papillon dog, Nick, passed away in early August, at home in my Dad’s arms with both of my parents with him, outside on their deck with the sun shinning brightly. It was very peaceful; and it was heartbreaking simultaneously. Nick was seventeen and he lived with my parents for eleven years. Nick stayed here on earth as long as his body allowed him to stay.

Nick came into my parents’ lives in 2011, the same year that Doug and I rescued Biscuit. Nick was such a good, sweet little dog, and my parents loved him so very much and they treated him like one of their human kids. Nick adored my Dad, and literally followed my Dad everywhere, whether that be watching my Dad while he used the exercise bike; going outside with my Dad while he worked in the yard; sitting by my Dad while he worked on his computer; going for car rides together; or cuddling up with my Dad while he took a nap. Also, you could always find Nick in the kitchen while my Mom cooked, hoping to find any remnant of food on the floor to eat; and Nick always went to my Mom when he wanted a treat or some chicken breast, his absolute favorite food! I remember Nick always barking and being so excited to see us when we returned home from being out somewhere! Nick always came with my parents when they came out to visit, and we are so glad that he made it to Alex’s fourth birthday party. Nick was spoiled and very well cared for, as every dog should be, and he even ate dinner at the dining room table with my parents in the evenings, as he had his own chair at the dinning room table! Nick was always friendly to everyone he met. Most of all, Nick gave my parents so much joy and comfort.

Nick knew both Biscuit and Victory, our rescue shelties, and life will never be the same without Nick. This was also Alex’s first encounter with death and the finality of it all, which is often challenging for adults to grasp. Alex asks many questions about heaven and what it means to die. We believe that Nick is free of pain, and both Nick and Biscuit are together in heaven. I believe losing a beloved animal can sometimes be more difficult than losing a human. Your furry family member(s) is literally always there for you, loves you unconditionally, and it is unbearable to imagine a life without them. Shown below is one of my favorite quotes about the great loss of a beloved animal. Nick will forever be in our hearts and he is greatly missed here on earth.

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals.  It is a cycle unlike any other.  To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge they will be broken seems incomprehensible.  Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.” —Suzanne Clothier

We Are Back!

We are back! This was the longest break I have ever taken on the blog in 10 years! It was a much needed sabbatical; however, I did really miss writing in this little space, and it feels like now is the right time to return. And, I cannot believe it is already officially fall, our very favorite season! We have a lot of fun activities planned, this fall, including: celebrating Victory’s eleventh birthday; seeing the Van Gough Exhibit: Immersive Experience; going to the pumpkin patch; picking apples; celebrating fourteen years of marriage; visiting with friends; celebrating Halloween; and hosting Thanksgiving!

During my time away from the blog, I was able work on catching up on my photo editing, which I always seem to be playing catch up, and I am still currently playing catch up in this area, always! I was able to create family yearbooks from 2018 through 2021, along with creating a book containing Alex’s pre-school art! (Prior to this, I printed my favorite family photos, but I have so many, it was getting difficult to manage, so I decided it might be better to make archival, high quality photo books. I still print my favorite images to frame.) Alex loves creating art, and it was my way of capturing her art forever, and encouraging her to continue her creative projects, which she very much enjoys! She is still hard at work making her lovely cards and sending them out to friends and family! It was very gratifying to get these books finished and printed, and I plan to make a family yearbook for each subsequent year! And, I plan to continue to make books containing Alex’s artwork, a nice keepsake! It is my way of creating a legacy for our little family.

We spent a lot of time at the pool this summer; Alex is swimming, on her own, which is so great! She is a little fish in the water! She was very determined to swim on her own! She wants to continue swimming so we are joining an indoor pool. Alex also continues her horse riding lessons, and she enjoys the horse she is learning to ride named, “Storm,” which she affectionately refers to him as, “Stormy!” We have brought Victory with us a few times, and she loves the horses as well! Alex is trotting now, which is great progress!

We celebrated Alex’s birthday, and I cannot believe she is four, already! Since she turned one, it was the first time we were able to do a formal birthday party with family and friends due to the pandemic! It was great fun, which included face painting and a rainbow science show!

We went away to the beach for vacation, and it was really a nice time away, and we rented a different house this year, and it was perfect! Both of our girls love the beach so very much! We also took a trip to Michigan this summer as well, and we all survived the long drive! We had a lot of fun together! Alex is looking forward to flying on an airplane again later this year!

This fall, Alex started a new school, and she is transitioning well. It has been a big adjustment for everyone, attending an elementary school, but she continues to enjoy learning and she is so very curious, and I hope she never loses her curiosity and love of learning! Victory goes with us every morning for school drop off, it is so great, and we are so grateful for Victory’s good health, as she just had a wellness exam at the vet.

I hope that you had a great summer and that you are enjoying the cooler fall weather!

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gone Fishing. . .

I hope that your spring is going well! We have been doing a lot of swimming; and Alex has been doing horse riding, which she loves. Victory just got over her urinary tract infection (UTI), thankfully, and she is doing well. I feel like the days are going by way too quickly.

I am taking a break from the blog for a couple weeks to see family; soak up our days together; rejuvenate; and to catch up on some photo editing, as it has been so busy lately. I want to thank you, as always, for being here. Whether you are a recent reader or have been following the blog for awhile, I am honored you take time to read the blog.  I am truly grateful. 

Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to visit the archives — the links are shown below.

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

‘Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

Alex Related posts

Happy almost summer!

Summer Bucket List

Last year, I did our summer check list for the first time, and I am doing our summer bucket list this year. It is super, super hot outside here! It feels like summer. We spent the past several days at the pool, and Alex has loved every minute of it, especially diving for her rings and sharks!

So, on our bucket list is the following for this summer…

Swim. Enjoy a lot of swimming time at the pool together.

Play more games. Alex likes playing games, for the most part, and we are building her resilience as she does not like to lose, so we are working on building this ‘muscle’ with her. So we hope to play more family games such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Bingo!

Grill more food. Doug is a really good cook, and we hope to use our Big Green Egg, more this summer, to enjoy more grilled foods!

Go fruit picking. We are going to pick strawberries soon, at a local farm, and we hope to pick some other fruits this summer. Alex loves fruit!

Go to the beach. We plan to take a trip to the beach, and Alex and Victory also love the beach, and we always have great memories together!

Visit Family. We plan to visit family this summer, which will be fun.

Do Fireworks. We plan to take a short trip to Pennsylvania to get some child-friendly fireworks for the Fourth of July!

Celebrate Alex’s Birthday. Alex has been unable to have a proper birthday party since she turned one, due to COVID, and she is very excited to have a birthday party this year, a rainbow themed party!

Go to Dutch Wonderland. Alex is quite tall, and she is excited to really enjoy her first theme park this summer, as she can get on most all the rides now!

Building in more down time. I literally feel like the time is flying by way too fast, and, at times, it is hard to keep up with. Sometimes, there is so much going on, that we do not plan enough down time, and I plan to do better about planning down time together.