Sunday, October 15, 2023

NEW Things to Share, but an OLD Blogger!

Well, here is my confession of the day! I finally have found time to get back to blogging, but I have not done so in such a long time that I am having trouble doing things like changing the layout to add new "gadgets" for ads and such. If you have good computer skills, love doing all things Poodle-related and might enjoy co-owning a blog, or just working on one as a hobby-- please get in touch! I have plenty of article content, product reviews and even some very nice new artwork coming soon for the banner, but I am having difficulty putting it all together. The older I get, the less computer skills I seem to have! 

On a more positive note, Brodie and I were thrilled when we had an inquiry recently from a vendor who makes absolutely gorgeous collars, in addition to some other poodle items such as leash holders and more, who is local to us--right around the corner in Greensboro, North Carolina! We went to the home of Patti Jessup, of The Decadent Dog, and were able to see so many lovely products, since she was getting ready for Fall shows. We saw all the beautiful materials for her handmade collars (over 70 different fabric choices!), her sewing room, and her husband's shop where he makes the wooden items.

I brought over some of the collars I had been using, such as a fabric martingale, and I was shocked when Patti pointed out that it had several "break points". With a strong puller like Brodie, our soft cotton martingale could have broken if he had decided to take off after a squirrel when on a walk because it had three break points and it was not double-stitched. 

Patti's collars, however, are specifically designed for large and giant breeds, so they are incredibly safe as well as beautiful. Brodie modeled a few and we finally decided on a 2-inch martingale style in the "Merlin" fabric since I love purple. It was custom-made and arrived quickly, with free shipping! We ordered one for a friend in Virginia and it was also made, shipped and arrived in under a week. 

Patti responds promptly to inquiries through her Etsy store, so she can help you with sizing and styles, even with collar choices if, like me, there are so many you like that you aren't sure what will look the best on your dog! . Soon I will post information that Patti gave me about what makes her collars different from the typical designer collars, neck protectors and other collars we use on our Standard Poodles, that are not as safe as her designs. I was also delighted to see that the prices were more reasonable than many of the collars that I have bought that were not made with quality hardware and material--there are photos of her collars in her store, as well as ordering information: The Decadent Dog Etsy Store

There are so many colors and designs to choose from, that you can even find one that will match your show dog's favorite pair of leg protectors--although in the photo below, Tate and Brodie have played so hard that his leggings were coming off! But he sure did look stylish before his leggings came off, and he has had many compliments since wearing his lovely new martingale collar (we chose this style for him because it does give a bit of training control).
Brodie Schlaginhaufen wearing his  "Merlin" martingale collar at home, and happily modeling another design that is on his wish list!
\Either width looks lovely on a Doberman, this beauty is wearing a "Stitch" colored martingale style
Shelby, a beautiful Dane owned by Teresa Powell, wearing her 2-inch Clementine" martingale

Tate, a parti-colored Standard Poodle puppy wearing his adjustable buckle collar in "Deacon" fabric, with strong black plastic snap buckle.

When you get in touch with Patti on The Decadent Dog Etsy shop  please be sure to tell her that Brodie and Melanie sent you her way! Also be sure to check out her leash holders, and visit her booths at upcoming grooming and craft shows, and hopefully coming soon to a dog show near you!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Am. AKC/UKC Champion Crystal Creek's Irish Creme - "Brodie"

What a birthday gift! My friend Veronica Kelso was up visiting this Spring around my birthday. As I gave her some grooming tips on her new Poodle puppy, suddenly she asked me to run Brodie outside so she could take some photos, because the light was "just right". He was not in a show groom, in fact, he wasn't truly even brushed out as we did not think she would have time to photograph him that day. But perhaps that is one reason the photos turned out so special, because they captured the "real Brodie", not the fellow who gets all glammed up for the show ring! Thank you Veronica, for not only this gorgeous image, but for all of my birthday gifts through the years, all of the recent ones of Brodie, the absolutely gorgeous ones taken for my birthday years ago on the weekend that Hudson came to us, and the very special photograph of Khaki, the incredibly sweet mixed breed girl that you and I shared. And as always, thank you to Brodie's breeder, Bonnie Winnings of Crystal Creek Standard Poodles, for sharing Brodie with us.
Brodie is two years old now, and has all of his health clearances, the majority of which are now posted on his OFA page. For a link to his pedigree, and show photos, see the Crystal Creek Standard Poodle's website link entitled 'Our Boys" and scroll down to Brodie's information. You can reach Brodie's breeder, Bonnie Winings, through that page, or contact me via my email. Brodie lives with me in North Carolina, but Bonnie is the person who bred him, and is the most familiar with his pedigree and what he may be likely to produce. Here is a candid of Brodie at a show as an 8 month old pup, with his friend Kelly Knight.
I am happy to discuss with you anything you wish to know about Brodie's temperament, structure, and of course I love to talk about his gorgeous head and coat! But I believe it is important not just to fall in love with photos and videos of a stud dog, but to research health clearances and everything you can find out about what his sire and dam have produced. Of course we are proud that Brodie has his AKC and UKC championships, we love the diversity of a Spanish import behind him, love that his sire is a gorgeous boy with his AKC Grand championship, his dam has her UKC Grand and both his sire and dam have performance titles! We truly love all the health clearances behind him. But we believe that even the grandparents on a pedigree are quite important, as far as determining what a dog will produce. And it is his breeder who knows all about the dogs behind Brodie, so if you have interest in him for one of your girls, click on the link listed above and scroll down to Brodie to see his information, then get in touch with his breeder if you with questions about his background. I would of course be the one to give final approval on any breeding, but I am a retired dog trainer who has been a show fancier of Standard Poodles since 1990, I am not, nor have I ever been, a breeder of poodles. Brodie's breeder does a great deal of research before doing a breeding, and she should be able answer any questions you have about dogs in his pedigree. Happy Summer! Thanks for letting me brag just a bit on Mr. Brodie on this post. Soon I should have a more entertaining, better researched article for the blog. For now, I will end with a candid of Brodie and his little boss, Mr. JJ! JJ may be small in statue, but believe me, he rules the place! I apologize that I cannot remember how to get the formatting correct in Blogger, so we are lacking spacing in this article--hopefully to be corrected soon!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Loving, and Losing , an All Time Favorite Poodle, to GOLPP

UKC Champion Prodigy's Content of Character, a/k/a Hudson When I saw an adorable photo of Hudson, in the snow, around age four or five months, on his breeder's Facebook page, it was love at first sight.I still remember commenting "if you ever decide to let this one go, please think of me!" Since she didnt know me personally,I never dreamt that a few months later she would actually write to see if I would be interested in co-owning this beautiful boy, with an agreement to show him and give him a forever home. Typically I don't co-own dogs with people I do not know personally, but I was so in love with this gorgeous puppy that I would have probably promised to name my first grandchild after her in exchange for the opportunity to have this dog come and live with me! We have had at least one Standard Poodle in our home since 1990. There was something special about each of them. But this little fellow (he was only 20 inches, 33 pounds, the result of an inter-variety breeding done for diversity reasons) was a big, extremely intelligent dog in a small package. He appointed himself the family watchdog right away. And speaking of watching, Huddy was the only dog I have ever owned who watched television, primarily just things that had horses or dogs in them, but occasionally he watched other things as well. One of his funniest TV habits was trying to help Cesar Millan when dogs were barking or growling on Cesar's programs. Hudson would actually lunge at the TV when dogs were acting out of control! He got in trouble a few times for that! But really one of the most special things about Hudson is that he never wanted to be in trouble. Call his name and he would come on a dime, inside or outside, including off leash in the middle of the eight acres we lived on up at the lake. If Mom or Dad said his name, he was by our sides in a flash. And he loved nothing more than "going on a ride", so much so that we had to spell things when we tried to sneak out of the house without him! Although his markings and thick coat with great texture made him quite flashy, Hudson did not love dog shows, he only tolerated them. We got his UKC championship quickly, only being shown in the United Kennel Club shows of course because although he was AKC registered, the American Kennel Club only allows solid colored poodles in the conformation ring. Actually it is the Poodle Club of America, the parent club of AKC, not AKC, who determines the Breed standard for conformation titles. Thankfully, we also have the United Poodle Association, the parent club for UKC, and UPA appreciates all colors of purebred poodles. Can a Poodle of any color be shown in the Multi-Colored classes at UKC events? Yes, with one exception. The merle gene does not occur naturally in poodles, so when it started popping up in advertisements on the internet, breeders trying to sell "purebred merle Stnadard Poodles", ethical UPA members quickly got a peitition together, petitioning UKC to disqualify poodles with this coloring from being shown. DNA testing has not been able to prove or disprove that merle poodles are not purebred but since the "originals" were bred by breeders who bred Aussiedoodles (Australian Shepherd/Standard Poodle crosses) it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how the merle gene crept into the gene pool. Sadly, merle coloring is connected with some serious health issues. As someone who used to show Australian Shepherds and was involved with Aussie rescue, I have seen puppies that were blind, deaf, and even one born without eyes. This is why it is a serious matter to ethical poodle fanciers--we do not wish to see any merle poodle or poodle mixes to be bred, ever. In fact, the way to find a healthy, non-shedding Poodle is to work with a Poodle breeder who doesn't breed Poodle mixes, but who breeds only AKC registered Poodles. There are many health clearances that we do on our breeding stock, and waiting until after a Poodle is two or three years old and has completed all of this health testing before breeding it, is one way to help insure, to help up your chances, of getting a dog that stands a good chance of living a healthy long life.
Sadly, the disease which took Hudson is not one that has a genetic test to rule out parents who are carriers--in fact, so far there is no proof that GOLPP is even genetic. Veterinarians and research articles typically state that the conditon affects elderly dogs, but Hudson was middle-aged when he first started showing symptoms of food getting stuck in his throat, gagging and other issues. GOLPP causes laryngeal paralysis, affecting the nerves that control the muscles in the throat. He was ten by the time that polyneuropathy kicked in, which includes vagus nerve involvement. He eventually had difficiulty swallowing as well as loss of muscle mass and rear-end weakness, causing some collapsing episodes. Unlike the rear weakness we see in elderly dogs who have arthritis in their spine or rear, GOLPP does not cause pain in those areas, the collapsing is due to weakness, sometimes combined as well with difficulty breathing. Dogs with GOLPP can be helped if diagnosed early on, with a procedure called Arytenoid laryngoplasty surgery (“tie-back” surgery, where a procedure is done on one of the laryngeal cartilages which keeps the throat from closing up, thereby decreasing airway resisteance and giving the dog a better ability to swallow normally). Unfortunately, Hudson was midsiagnosed at the beginning of his symptoms as having IBD, because of vomiting episodes, and by the time we changed veterinarians and got the correct diagnosis he was in the later stages of the disease, so he was not a candidate for this procedure. The disease is usually slow progressing, and the fact that Hudson was put on an anti-inflammatory med for IBD, did help keep many of the symptoms of GOLPP under control for almost four years, before we had to make the tough decision to let him go because he simply couldn't swallow and he was in distress.
I am not usually one to share the "gory details" but since so many people have never even heard of GOLPP, I wanted to make Poodle owners aware that it DOES occur in our breed, as I have since heard from others who lost a dog to it. Since it happens later in life, it is impossible to know if there is a genetic component, and so far, it is thought not, although the fact that it appears more often in some breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Borzois, Greyhounds, German Shepherd Dogs and Brittany Spaniels) this "may" end up proving that certain bloodlines are genetically predeposed. When my veterinarian diagnosed Hudson he said that the good news was that no pain was involved (at that time he was occasionally collapsing in the rear) but the bad news was, the disease is always terminal. Many articles on the internet also mention that no pain is involved, however I can attest that a dog who is having difficulty breathing and swallowing, definitely becomes distressed, even panicked. It does seem to be true that pain is not involved with the rear weakness, dogs definitely are in distress when they cannot swallow---when food is getting stuck in their throat, or when they epxerpeince things like aspiration pneumonia which make them miserable, and can cause an extremely high fever which doesn't always respond to medication, especially if they are already at the point where they cannot even swallow medication. So please, if you see a study in Standard Poodles trying to find a genetic marker which will help us eliminate this disease, donate! I would love to see this eradicated from our beloved breed, because I don't want to think of another dog going through what Hudson did in his last years. Hudson, I will miss you forever, and believe that God will give me the privilege of seeing you again in heaven. You gave so much love, what a precious gift you were to us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Back to Blogging, with Brodie

Hi, it's Brodie, also affectionally known at times as Bobo, or just Bo. My Mom has been slack on blogging now for some time, so I thought I would step in and give her a hand. First order of business, we need to find some vendors for the blog, because Poodleit, and others that are just filling up space, no longer seem to be active. If you have a favorite vendor of Poodle products, let us know so we can reach out to them! At this time, we don't require any fee or affiliate percentage, since we are starting from scratch to once again build up the Poodle Blog readership. We are glad to review any product that a vendor may wish to send, and if we think other Poodle owners need to know about the product (from grooming products, toys to snoods, leggings and raincoats, you name it) we will be glad to share.
By early Spring 2023, our best picks will have a link on the right hand column or on the bottom of all of our posts. For more information on sending a product for review, or if you are a reader just wishing to share about your favorite products, email us at Secondly, an update on my favorite Poodle...guess who! Yep, I know, everyone tells me I am a pretty special fellow. In fact, Mom has taken so many photos and videos of my antics,that she is out of storage on her Iphone! Dad takes me on rides in his big truck quite often and I am a favorite at places that sell biscuits in the morning, even though Mom won't let me eat any of them. Of course I much prefer a piece of dried chicken or beef lung when I get home, but the ladies at Biscuitville act so disappointed when Dad says I can't have one of their homemade doggy biscuits. No white flour says Mom! This photo of me with the Winter Wonderland background was my first major when my friend Kelly Knight offered to take me to shows in Perry, Georgia.
Here are a couple more of my AKC show photos, of course these were almost a year ago now, but I'm just as handsome as ever. Soon I will see if I can find some photos of me in my Sporting trim. Here are some of my win photos with my handler Ann Rairigh of Litilann Poodles, she did a good job of making me behave! Well, at least we tried hard!
I didn't have many show photos, because only one circuit with my friend Kelly Knight, and a few Florida shows with Ann, and I was all done! Boy was Mommy happy, and Daddy was thrilled that I got back home so soon.Don't tell the other Schlaginhaufen dogs, but I think I just might be his favorite!
If I don't see you before the holidays, have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Hopefully by January, Mom will remember how to get her spacing right when she is typing on Blogger. Best wishes, Brodie, also known as AKC/UKC Champion Crystal Creek's Irish Creme

Monday, February 7, 2022

Introducing "Brodie" - AKC/UKC Ch. Crystal Creek's Irish Creme

Never say never... Just when you think you have cleared the dog show bug out of your system (after all, it started over forty years ago, I ought to be over it by now, right?) along comes a gorgeous puppy. Brodie is now 11 months old, and has brought so much happiness and laughter into the Schlaginhaufen home! Thank you to his breeder and co-owner, Bonnie Winings of Crystal Creek, for sharing him with us and encouraging us to go ahead and show him as a puppy; thank you to Jennifer Anders, Kelly Knight, Amy Corbitt and Payton Burns who helped us in UKC (he finished his UKC championship the first weekend out, and went on to take 3 legs towards his grand championship before we pulled him to show him AKC); and thank you to Kelly Knight and Ann Rairigh, who finished his AKC championship for us in just a handful of shows. He is now busy learning basic obedience, in hopes of doing some performance events down the road. More photos coming soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

2020 Thoughts on Commercial Dog Food


To assure safety and wholesomeness of pet foods, state and federal regulatory agencies prescribe or permit ingredients. Additionally, ingredients must be described on labels by precise nomenclature dictated by alphabet agencies such as AAFCO and the FDA.

The problem is, those who sit on the committees deciding what can or cannot be approved may have commercial links. They can push through ingredients that should not be in foods, and prevent the approval of those which either rub prejudices the wrong way or which may create unwelcome competition to their own interests. On the other hand, state regulators (a manufacturer must get approval from each individual state) may have little nutritional knowledge or academic credentials, but a lot of power.

Nutritionists who are consulted by regulators to help make decisions about ingredient approval are steeped in the reductionistic point of view. Since they believe nutrition boils down to percentages - % protein, % fat, % fiber, etc. - almost anything can be an approved ingredient provided these numbers are known.

Where there are deficiencies, a few synthetic vitamins here, a few additives there (all properly "approved" of course), and all is well. The end result of this unholy marriage between commercial interests, prejudice, scientific naivete, and regulatory dictatorship is the official American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) listing of approved pet food ingredients. Here are ex­amples of what has been officially approved... and I'm not kidding:

1. dehydrated garbage
2. polyethylene roughage
3. hydrolyzed poultry feathers
4. hydrolyzed hair
5. hydrolyzed leather meal
6. some 36 chemical preservatives
7. peanut skins and hulls
8. corn cob fractions
9. ground corn cob
10. ground clam shells
11. poultry, cow and pig feces and litter
12. hundreds of chemicals
13. a host of antibiotic and chemotherapeutic pharmaceuticals
14. a variety of synthetic flavorings
15. adjuvants

On the other hand, if a manufacturer wants to be innovative and pack as much natural nutrition into products as possible, important ingredients are not approved. For example, even though it has been proven that the amino acid, L-carnitine, may be deficient in processed pet foods, it has been forbidden. Proteoglycans such as glucosamine and chondroitin and other ingredients such as col­lagen, all of which have been proven to help prevent and alleviate arthritic conditions, have also been blacklisted.  Special natural foods that are particu­larly nutrient dense, such as pollen, composted sea vegetation, sea salt, omega-3 fatty acids, various biologically active phytonutrients (dozens of these have been discovered and their proven effectiveness has created a class of beneficial ingredients known as nutraceuticals) and even some organic ingredients cannot be used because they are not "approved."

There is no question of safety here - as regulators pretend - for these foods have been consumed for eons by animals and humans without ill effect.

Animal food regulatory absurdity becomes apparent when the very ingredients banned for pet foods are sitting on shelves in grocery and health food stores fully approved for human consumption.

"Approved" ingredient regulations cannot be trusted. Banning nutri­tious natural ingredients and approving dehydrated garbage and feces makes it clear that the agenda of regulation is something different than encour­aging optimal nutrition.
Once again it becomes apparent that if you want what is best for yourself and your pet, then you better rely on your own common sense.
This above post is copyrighted by Wysong, Inc. and is reprinted with permission. Interested in more information?  Visit the Wysong website and also be sure to read other articles concerning dog food and nutrition on this blog.  On the Wysong website, you can also sign up for their free emails concerning "100 Truths".  The more I read, the more convinced I am that we have got to be more careful in our selection of pet foods, and our dogs really do need more fresh food from our kitchen, because it is impossible to get "complete and balanced nutrition" from feeding commercial pet food alone.
How many dog food companies are going to tell you this type of information?  So far I have heard it from only one head of a pet food company, and that is Dr. Randy Wysong!   No, I don't sell Wysong or any other pet food. You can find Wysong at upscale pet supply stores, you can buy it direct from Wysong at or click the Pet Food Direct widget on my website and order through my affiliate link with Pet Food Direct. I personally have had good success with ordering directly from Wysong, as far as very quick service plus they have wonderful educational materials available. If this is the first you have heard of Wysong, please be sure to visit their website! I rotate dog food, as Dr. Wysong has always suggested, and as of the date of reposting this article, 12/10/18, I am also using Canidae and Nature's Recipe. Update 9/2/2020: Nature's Recipe has been bought out by Smucker's and has changed some of their formulas. I am currently using Dr. Harvey's Canine Health mix, along with lightly boiled ground turkey and Dr. Harvey's' liquid fatty acid supplement which is correcting an inflammatory bowel condition that one of my dogs develoepd when on Nature's Recipe this past year (3 were "okay" on it, one suddenly started having issues). Dr. Harvey's is a mix, you soak it only for 8 minutes, and no other supplements besides oil is needed if you are feeding cooked or raw meat. Canidae is my personal recommedation if you cannot afford or don't have time to cook for your dogs. As always, check with your veterinarian if your dog has special health needs. Many people are switching from dry dog food to canned. For information on the best canned dog foods, I recommend the following article on Your Dog Advisor wesbite: Best Canned Dog Food for Puppies. For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me link the article, but you can copy and paste this link to find it:

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Puppy Size? It's that time of year

Many of you, like me, are stuck indoors right now as we wait out the COVID-19 epidemic. We find ourselves looking at Facebook or the Internet more than normal, and even if already surrounded by dogs we love, it can be hard not to get "puppy fever" when we see beautiful litters of puppies advertised. My parti-colored Standard Poodle boy has recently sired a litter of pups, and I have been in touch with some prospective buyers recently to help the breeder find good homes for the puppies.

They ask questions about the size the pups are expected to be, the colors (and with a multi-colored litter with various sized dogs in the pedigree, these questions don't always have definitive answers!) Sometimes, I find myself networking with others to help them find the dog that is their heart's desire, and it can be very time-consuming. But in many ways, I envy these people, because they are having the enjoyment of looking for a new addition to their family, which will hopefully bring them joy for many years to come. I'm not sure when, if ever, I will have that joy again.

Then today, when looking back over some of my past articles, I found this one, which seemed worth sharing again. It might help some of us remember that, no matter the size, the breed, the color, or the fancy pedigree...sometimes the choice of a puppy, or even the feeling of joy, is a decision of the heart.

Puppy "Size"
Published a decade ago on my Knowing Dogs blog, but original author unknown

One of my training customers emailed this story to me, and it is one of the most precious puppy stories I have ever read.

'Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,' the mother told the volunteer at the shelter.

'What is it she keeps asking for?' the volunteer asked.

'Puppy size!' replied the mother, in a frustrated tone.

'Well, we have plenty of puppies, even some medium and smaller sized ones, if that's what she's looking for..'

'I know..... We have seen most of them, ' the mom said in frustration...

Just then Danielle, the mom's eight year old, came walking into the office .

'Well, did you find one?' asked her mom.

'No, not this time,' Danielle said with sadness in her voice. 'Can we come back on the weekend?'

The two women looked at each other, and just shook their heads.

Danielle looked at the volunteer and appeared to be tearing up. 'Are you not open this weekend? Won't you have some more puppies?'

'You never know when we will get more dogs.. Unfortunately, there's always a supply,so we might have more puppies by the weekend' the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. 'Don't worry Mama, I'll find one this weekend,' she said.

Over the next few days, both Mom and Dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. Months before, they had taken her to see a litter of purebred Springer Spaniel puppies and she had acted the same way. They thought afterward, when she shared her feelings with them, that she simply wanted to find a smaller sized dog at an animal shelter. Every time a segment came on the television about homeless animals, her eyes would fill with tears and she would say, "Can we go look for my puppy soon?"

Tonight the conversation felt like a broken record, with Danielle simply saying she would know the right puppy when she saw it.

'It's this weekend or we're not looking any more,' Dad, frustrated, finally ended the conversation and the child went to bed looking chest-fallen.

'We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size, either,' Mom added.

Danielle ate her cereal quickly on Saturday morning, and cheerfully announced she was ready to go to the shelter. Dad thought it was too early, and decided to stay home, but Mom got dressed and once again took her beloved daughter to the local animal shelter.

It was early, and they were the first ones when the door opened at the shelter on that Saturday. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, Mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted. She pressed her face close to the window to watch her daughter.

Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out by a volunteer and she held each one. One by one she said, 'Sorry, but you're not the one.'

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. When the fluffy black puppy was put in her arms, this time she took a little longer, so Mom turned the corner and walked into the adoption area.

'Mom, it's him! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!' The child screamed with joy. 'It's the puppy size!'

'But honey, he's the same size as all the other puppies you have held over the last few weeks,' Mom said. 'Maybe even a bit bigger.'

'No Mommy, not SIZE... the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed,' she said. 'Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!'

The volunteer glanced at Mom, and the two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both, tears running down her cheeks as she laughed.

'Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms,' she said. Then, holding the puppy up close to her face, she said, 'Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!'

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that has made you sigh. We can find it not only find it in the arms of our loved ones but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day...the sighs of God. It's wonderful when it comes from one of our beloved dogs, but it's everywhere. Many of us, like my friend Patti Lucas pictured here, have heard the sighs of a foster dog when they first know they are safe. Perhaps you cannot add a pup to your home, but fostering an adult dog might bring you some sighs of joy.

But don't can look out the window today or even just around your room and see signs of God's sighs of love, when we thank Him for what He has given us.

Take the time to stop and listen; you may be surprised at what you hear.