Before Alzheimer's took over, my dad loved to have talks with Fritz, who ran to meet him at the back door.  Fritz was from the Humane Society.

Before Alzheimer’s took over, my dad loved to have talks with Fritz, who ran to meet him at the back door. Fritz was from the Humane Society.


Our dog Maggie, a special member of our family for the past 12 years. Our police officer son-in-law found her in an abandoned yard. (Photo by Jim Warner)

Our dog Maggie, a special member of our family for the past 12 years. Our police officer son-in-law found her in an abandoned yard. (Photo by Jim Warner)

When we were growing up, my brother and I had numerous pets: rabbits, seahorses, an alligator for a short time, white mice, a parakeet, and eight dogs (one at a time). We never had kittens or a cat, but that was because my brother was allergic to them (I thought we should give up my brother so I could have a kitten, but my parents outvoted me.)

Five of our dogs were from the Humane Society, and our first dog when we moved to Fort Scott, when I was 3 and my brother was almost 5, was a dog that had been left behind by the people who rented the house before we did. Rather than shoo her off, of course Mom fed and took care of her. A month later Smokey had a litter of puppies, and when they were old enough, my mother put a sign on the gate of our fence: “Puppies, 5 cents each. To good homes only”  

We came home from church the next Sunday, and the gate was open.  A note on the back porch was weighed down with a rock and a dime. “We have a good home. We took the last puppy. You can keep the extra nickel. Thank you.”

October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.”   This post is not a Public Service Announcement, but I can honestly attest to the joy of having dogs as members of our family. We also love cats; as soon as I had my own home, we began adding wonderful cats to our clan as well, but that’s another post.

October is also “National Popcorn Popping Month,” but a previous post was about microwave popcorn setting off fire alarms in my mother’s assisted living facility, so we’ve already covered that topic. It is also “Cookie Month,” so to play fair, I’ve included a picture of some October-themed cookies. But for the rest of you who might need a nudge for dog adoptions, here are some personal testimonies:

By writer Edith Wharton: “My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet.”

 “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers

 “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” ~ Andy Rooney

And Rita Rudner said, “I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.” 

If you want to meet new people and have a heated discussion, you can get a bumper sticker like the one we saw on a truck in the parking lot of the dog park: “MY MIXED BREED DOG IS SMARTER THAN YOUR HONOR STUDENT”

October is also SARCASTIC MONTH, but you might want to use sarcasm carefully…

To be fair, October is also "Cookie Month" ~ so here are some samples.

To be fair, October is also “Cookie Month” ~ so here are some samples.

Our daughter's family adopted Duchess, a wonderful German Shepherd, from a soldier leaving Ft. Riley.

Our daughter’s family adopted Duchess, a wonderful German Shepherd, from a soldier leaving Ft. Riley.

Our granddaughter Grace reading to Maggie.

Our granddaughter Grace reading to Maggie.




Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


  1. juliabarrett

    I can tell Maggie loves being read to. What a sweetheart! You sound like us– the entire animal kingdom in one house plus we had cats. What a perfect month! Dogs, popcorn and cookies. Truly a great month.
    I’m with Will Rogers and Jake would agree with Rita – poodles are definitely not dogs, or at least not a species of dog he’ll acknowledge as a dog. He’s not fond of doodles either.

    • Maggie is definitely one of the family, and if she sees any other dogs–especially small dogs–she assumes they’re puppies and responds affectionately. On hikes, she hunts for squirrels and rabbits and anything that runs and tries to hide.
      October has some other attributes, but I stayed with the dogs, popcorn and cookies…with a brief reference to the sarcasm. So far, our Colorado October has been gorgeous, and the Purple Autumn Ash tree in our front yard is beautifully brilliant!

  2. Once again a charming blend of canine theme with “doggie” quotes. I love the Wharton-Rooney-Rudner quotes, none of which I am familiar with.

    The photo of the dog Fritz reminds me of my Aunt Ruthie’s dog Fritzie IV, her 4th and current Schnauzer, which appears to be the breed pictured with your dad. Ruthie has Alzheimer’s, and so we are in the process of finding him a new home, a tedious process in this area. Aunt Ruthie has regarded Fritzie as a “heart-beat at her feet,” her foot-warmer and only male bed-fellow that I ever knew about!

    • Oh, bless your Aunt Ruthie, Marian. My dad was adamant that they would not move as long as Fritz was alive. Three months after the old dog died, I moved Mom and Dad into an assisted care apartment where he could get care for his Alzheimer’s. But their Fritz was a BIG dog, almost 75 lbs., and very strong. He behaved when my mom took him for walks, unless he saw a squirrel up ahead, and then it was a tug of war.
      I hope you find an excellent home for Fritzie IV.

  3. We always had animals when the kids were growing up…and only bought 1 of the many dogs we owned over the years…the others, and the cats, rabbit and gerbils, came from rescue homes or were rescued by my kids. 😉 Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos, Marylin!

    Life in New Hampshire is wonderful…I love living so close with our daughter and grandson…today was his 6th birthday…I brought cupcakes to his after-school group (they don’t allow b-day ‘parties’ in his kindergarten class, although they do recognize the birthday child in many ways…and tomorrow he has a party at one of those gym facilities where 20+ kids from his class will have a ball, running and jumping and climbing. I’m writing like crazy…and have taken several writing classes this year and even went to an awesome writing retreat at Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed). But I’ve been lax about blog visiting. 😦 I’ll try to do better…I miss not reading your posts!

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you, Vivian, and know you’re doing so well. We miss you in Colorado, but years ago I spent 8 days at a wonderful writing retreat in New Hampshire at Twin Farms on Molasses Farm. It was sponsored by a writing instructor at the U of NH, and it was an amazing writing experience.
      Enjoy your daughter and grandson. Every month I visit my mother in southeast Kansas, and we also include special time in central Kansas with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. We wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  4. I’d recommend going and adopting a dog from the local shelter before you spend a fortune on a dog from a breeder. Let’s give the homeless homes first.
    A wonderful post Marylin. xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Our family has had both, and loved both, David. But in my opinion, the rescued dogs like Maggie were the ones that bonded the tightest and stole our hearts. And as it turned out, we needed Maggie as much as she needed us. Hugs to you, too!

  5. I would love to have a dog but since I’m away from home half the time I can’t. At my mom’s farm in Germany there are lots of animals, all of them pets . Lenin, a rescue goat just died. It was a nasty fellow and I was not sad to see him go. Last year my brother nursed two baby wild boars where the mother had been shot by a hunter. I wish I could post a picture and show it to you. . It was the cutest thing ever , they followed my brother everywhere . Eventually he had to let them out into the wild.

    • Gerlinde, what an amazing group of animals you and your mother have had as pets! I hope you’ll do a post with pictures, especially of the baby wild boars. I had a friend when I was growing up whose grandparents raised goats and made cheese. The little ones were so adorable, but I know exactly what you mean about Lenin (even his name)! I was afraid of the head goat–his name was Brutus–and he was a terror.

  6. I have never heard of keeping a seahorse as a pet. But yes, dogs are on average, better than the average human. We wouldn’t be without Lulu. Our neighbours have a house full of rescue dogs. Up to 12 at a time. They employ 2 dog helpers. It is hard to understand anyone abandoning a dog but it happens too frequently. Maggie looks a very contented dog. And very lucky too. What is she listening to, I wonder?

    • She is an amazing dog, Andrew, and she’ll watch TV with us, listen to us talk and anything we spell (she’s learned to spell Walk, Food, Eat, etc., so there’s no fooling her) her ears perk up. A dozen years with us, and she’s one of the family.
      When I was ten, our parents went to a conference in Florida. They had a kit of seahorses shipped to us. At first we thought is was just kind of hazy water in the big bowl, but then all these little seahorses began growing. They were fascinating, but after they got to a certain size, they died.

  7. I have a heartbeat at my feet right now. All I need is a cookie and life will be perfect. 🙂

  8. An alligator! My goodness, Marylin, was it a baby? Every evening is National Popcorn Eating Month in our house, at least for me. It’s my favorite snack! 🙂
    Grace looks like me as a child, always had my face in a book or jigsaw puzzle.

    • You, Grace and I are three of a kind, Jill. I loved reading, and every week I made a trek to the library for more books. We had a German Shepherd puppy, and as she grew I read aloud to her in the back yard. She’d gnaw on my shoe as I read, and finally she’d fall asleep. She was my reading buddy for awhile, so I loved seeing Grace read to our dog Maggie.

  9. Marylin, there is a saying you have probably heard that goes something like “May I be the person my dog thinks I am” which is so good, so true. What a beautiful tribute to owning a pet from a shelter or adopting an unwanted one!
    We have a 70 lb. yellow lab named Jordan. My daughter found her as a puppy and she is a loving member of our family. Then when my daughter got her own house last year, she adopted a 10 month old Great Dane named Molly and then because Molly needed some company, she adopted Sebastian from the local shelter.
    I’m going to share your post on my FB. My friends are huge dog lovers.
    xo Joanne

    • I hope your friends enjoy the post, Joanne. It brought back so many memories writing this, and I could have gone on and on.
      I love the quote about being the person my dog thinks I am. Do you know who wrote it?
      Our daughter Molly was in her early 20s when she got Monty, a black lab puppy. And then she adopted Magic, a red Irish setter, at the pound during his final days before his time ran out. The two were great friends, but her barn cat, Munchkin, ruled. Going to her house for visits was like an adventure into Happy Chaos.

  10. Don

    Marylin your post got me thinking of the long line of pets we have had and our interaction with them, especially our dogs. It’s a precious history and we would never be able to measure the sheer joy and happiness they brought us, and I include the little one who is with us now who is very old and loved deeply. What would we be without our pets and their history with us.

  11. Love this post Marilyn – there is an undeniable connection between dogs and their owners. Duty – love – friendship!

    • You’re so right, Mary. This morning I saw a quote on AOL by John Steinbeck: “I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.” At first I thought he was wrong, but sometimes I do think our dogs think we humans must be nuts, but they love us anyway! 😉

  12. I have never lived in a home without pets, at least not for long. I think exchanging a sibling for a cat is a fair exchange.

  13. Molly

    Awwww….Fritzy! I remember being so jealous because Nic got to go with grandma and grandpa to go pick up the new puppy! Nic recalls the ride home with the new puppy. He said they were trying to come up with a name, grandpa suggested FRIEND…since he would be their new friend. But grandma suggested Fritz and everyone agreed! He was such a sweet, gentle giant.

    • And they wanted a small dog, a little furry puppy. But I remember my mom/your grandma saying she just shook her head. Here was this little guy, but from the size of his huge paws she knew things wouldn’t go as planned.
      But remember when you and I got your kitten Munchkin that was for sale out in the country? We thought she was so calm and docile and sweet… until we took her to the vet and he removed ear mites from both ears. Then she was racing, running, vim and vigor.
      Same with babies, Molly. You can’t tell what you’re getting into, but it doesn’t matter. You love them like crazy!

  14. Jim

    I always wondered how Fritz could see from behind all that hair over his eyes. Fact is, he somehow saw everything quite well. Boy, did he love to take walks with Grandpa Ray.

    I might add, Marylin, that the title WANT A HEARTBEAT AT YOUR FEET? is very appropriate for much of your blog writing, not just this week. How many countless times have I peeked into the study while you were working on your stories or your blog, and there was Maggie curled up on the floor next to you?

    • And when she thinks I’ve been at the computer too long, she buries her muzzle under my arm and lifts it off the keyboard. And she’s a strong dog that doesn’t give up easily! We’re so lucky we have her, honey!

  15. My parents had shelties and collies, so I absolutely loved this post from beginning to end. Fritz is really serene in the one photo with the almost black and white background. This was also nice about your father, I love finding out things about your family, Marylin. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

    • We had three shelties–Paige, Carson, and Chelsea Goodnight Valentine Rainmaker–never let a child name a dog. 😉 Paige lived to be almost 20, and after our last sheltie died we vowed we wouldn’t get another dog but would travel, etc.
      Our son-in-law found Maggie tied to a stake in an abandoned yard. He called us and said, “Have I got a dog for you!” And he was so right. She is still the perfect dog for us.
      Have a great weekend, Robin!

  16. For the love of dogs, Marylin! Dogs have always been part of our family and as best as I can imagine, always will be. They truly are part of the family and are loved and depended on just as much as human family members. Our dog, Daisy, goes almost everywhere we go and rides with her head sticking out of the sun roof. It is a true joy to see the smiles she brings to people as they drive past us. Your post is a beautiful tribute to our four legged family members and your dogs are all beautiful! XO

    • Thank you, Robyn. It would probably be impossible to photograph, but what a great picture it would make, Daisy riding with her head sticking out of the sun roof, enjoying the ride.
      We once saw a burly biker on his Harley, in leather vest, bandanna on his head and goggles…and nestled behind him, in a leather saddle-bags-type thing, rode two little dogs with matching bandannas! It made our day. Everyone on the road waved at him and smiled.

  17. Pets are wonderful. My son had a dog and my daughter had a cat. It was so funny because the cat spent the night outside(a Tom cat) and the dog was inside. In the morning I would open the door to let the dog out and the cat would run in. It was like they shared the house fairly. We never got another dog after the kids left home and Andre (the dog) passed away but we have always had cats. I love the picture of your granddaughter reading to your dog.

    • Thanks, Darlene. I love the story about the dog and cat trading places and sharing the house. The memories of our pets stay with us forever, and I imagine that many of your son’s and daughter’s “remember this?” discussions include these pets.

  18. I have to say that your Maggie looks beautiful, and I’m sure that her responsible owners would never give me cause to rant about the you-know-what …. 😀

  19. Grace and Maggie so cute! reminded me of my special bond with our golden retriever when I was a small child. Love the quotes and I am all for eating popcorn 🙂 oh and cookies…

    • And, if you want to allow yourself to be sarcastic, October has is the month that for some reason has a Sarcasm clause. Though, I’m with you, I’d rather enjoy the dogs and cookies, Yolanda.

  20. Lovely dogs you have had! We have our rescue dog…love her but she is a Rambo Girl. She got a bath on Sunday.She was so sick on Tuesday night…had huge mess to clean up and her another bath bath. Yesterday she came in stinking so bad we thought we would be sick. It was a rainy day…we bathed her a third time for the week and have hunted yard last night and again today. Can’t find a thing and hope she can’t find it again either! Our once easy bather is now very reluctant to come to the garage!

    • Maggie has been amazing, Claudia. She was abandoned, tied to a stake in a yard, but from the moment our police officer son-in-law found her, we knew we wanted her. She was a year old, and now we’ve had her for 12 years…and since she’s been with us, she’s never had a bath. She rolls in snow and wades around in mountain streams, and Jim faithfully brushes her every night. The vet is amazed that her skin and fur are so healthy.
      I had a toy Manchester dog when I was in high school. She had mange, and I had to bathe her every other day for a month with a foul green goopy concoction. It was the longest month of my life.

  21. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Pets bring so much joy! Thanks for the memories of all the dogs I’ve loved and lost. Now I’m just a “cat lady!”

    • There is no such thing as “just” being a cat lady, Nancy. I would have loved having kittens and cats while I was growing up, if only I could have traded my allergic brother for them. 😉

  22. Aw, you’ve touched the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. My husband and I want a dog, but unfortunately, we travel way too much with our family scattered across the country, and there’s no one nearby that we could leave a dog with. Our daughter who lives in town won’t care for one, because she was traumatized when she was young when a dog attached her best friend. Her friend’s face required quite a few stitches. It’s sad that one out of control dog can affect someone’s thoughts about all the beautiful dogs in general. Maybe one day, we’ll adopt a dog.

    • Our last sheltie was a darling, funny and happy dog, Diana, until a doberman broke loose and attacked him. Poor Carson was never the same after that, so I can only imagine how your daughter feels.
      Someday, the perfect dog will need you–and will want to travel with you–and that will be it.

  23. We’ve had dogs and cats – sometimes, at the same time. Right now, we have two 5-year-old shelter kitties. They are a real treasure. I love coming home and seeing them waiting for me at the door. Of course, it’s meal time and they’re hungry. But, hey! I’ll take that. One of my favorite cartoons is “Mutts” and he often has comics about shelter animals. Thanks for speaking up for those who can only woof or meow. 😉

    • Pets who wait for us in anticipation–whether out of love or hunger–still earn my affection, Judy. 🙂
      We do have a soft spot for rescued pets and those waiting in Humane Societies. Maggie is our only rescued dog, but as it turned out, we needed her as much as she needed us, and we didn’t even realize it.

  24. jakesprinter

    Very interesting post Marylin , I love Dogs and Cats too … They are my family here 🙂

  25. The first two pets we had during our married life adopted us. The first, a gorgeous cat that looked like a tabby and abyssinian mix, started following me when I went out for walks, Being allergic to cats, I ignored her beautiful self as long as I could. To make a long story short, we had her 17 years and she assisted me in building up a tolerance to cats to the point where I don’t have a problem unless I’m in a closed up car with one. The second, a Carolina dog, just showed up one day at our house. And though we tried to give her away to anybody who would answer their phone, God had other plans. 13 years later her time left with us is very short – so we’re posting each bucket list entry that ‘she’ has made on Facebook as she accomplishes them. Next week she eats off of real china!

    We’ve also added a couple of rescue cats to the household a few years ago. Not sure how it happened, but I went from being allergic to and avoiding cats to being a little cat crazy! Anybody who gets a rescue animal starts out thinking they’re doing something good for an animal and soon realize they actually did something wonderful for themselves!

    • Shel, I have one other friend who built up an allergy immunity to cats after she adopted a stray cat, too! It seems like good cat Karma!
      And I love that your dog’s “bucket list” includes eating off real china. Now, that is a special meal.

  26. Dogs, popcorn and cookies, you can’t go far wrong with that! I love that Edith Wharton quote, we always had cats and loved them dearly, but I can honestly say having a dog has changed our lives for the better.

    • Ours, too, Andrea. Jim hikes in the mountains, many miles farther than I like to hike. But with Maggie along, I don’t worry about him. She’s his hiking buddy, and I think he’s more careful and aware when she’s with him. Then she comes home and “helps” as I garden and take care of the deck and plants, and a night she watches TV with us. She also travels with us everywhere, so we know all the “dogs welcome” hotels and motels. It doesn’t sound like much, but she’s a big part of our lives.

  27. I couldn’t imagine my life without owning a dog. I have three at the moment (I had four, but my German Shepherd died about two months ago of old age 😦 ) I love your quotes and totally agree that dogs are very smart and also very lovable!

    • Thanks, Dianne. You’re so right–things just wouldn’t be the same without our dogs–and Maggie fits in and because of her, we see things differently. Like the deer that jumped our fence and made himself at home, and the squirrels that keep Maggie alert and active.

  28. Oh Marylin, I love the story of the puppy…’…you can keep the extra nickel. Thank you’ 🙂 Such cute dogs and love your little granddaughter reading to Maggie, so precious. My daughter would readily tell you that dogs are better than humans any day of the week. We’ve always had dogs as you know and wish we could have a dog now, she really wants one and I believe it would be so good for her when she starts to want to go out more again. We’re working on it. You also know we’ve had some rather exotic pets too but Marylin, I have to say, you’ve outdone us with the alligator!!! I notice you said for a short time…so I can only hazard a guess with that one, lol 😉 What amazing days you have over there (I never heard of most of them!) Had no idea about National Popcorn Popping Month. Funny that, I always make sure we have popcorn in the house, especially when Eldest Son comes to visit…and his birthday is in October 🙂

  29. Your son was born in the right month if he loves popcorn! 😉
    Do you have dog rescue groups or Humane Societies nearby, Sherri? There are some remarkable dogs with wide eyes and huge spirits of hopefulness just waiting for you wonderful daughter to welcome them into her life and heart. I know you’ll help her find a good one.
    The story of the alligator’s short time with us is rather…well, icky. It was a gift, very small, about 7″ long, and it was my brother’s. ( I had the seahorses.) He didn’t give it a name–which is a bad omen–and well, we’ll just say that Kansas was not the best, most conducive place for the alligator. 😦
    It wouldn’t make a good blog story.

  30. While our circumstances aren’t conducive to having pets these days, I grew up with cats and a dog, and couldn’t imagine a heaven without them—or other wonderful animals. If we find ourselves able to bring one into the home again, you can be sure a shelter will be where we go.

  31. We’ve had both AKC-registered and Humane Society dogs, and while we’ve loved them all, Maggie (a rescued dog) stole our hearts immediately. Now, after 12 years, she’s such a treasured member of our family that we don’t know what we’d do without her.

  32. Jane Thorne

    Oh Marylin, visiting your blog is like a warm breeze on a Spring day..lovely, just lovely. My chap is looking to be a foster carer for guide dogs for the blind. I love this idea and will be a willing helper as these dogs come to live with him while their owners go into hospital. We both share a dream of having an animal sanctuary, for all sorts of animals, as we get older. I love dogs and cats, as does he, and the animals that have come from rescue shelters have been very special indeed. Hugs for you. ❤ xXx

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