Ghost Rider

Great googly-moogly, what happened to you?  Oh come on, it's just psoriasis.  I've had it for a while.  Mommy is Ghost Rider?
So h ow come you haven't drawn yourself like this so far?  Are you kidding?  I get enough grief over my weird eyes and my wonky knees.  I can just imagine what folks would say about this.  Mom!  Mom!  Here's a list of them who done me wrong so you can exact revenge on 'em!
Dogs offer commentary on their mom's condition.
Lemme guess.  Does it involve me wearing a paper bag?  Maybe...?  Where's your motorcycle?  Outside?

You would think that masks would have been my friends this past year, hiding my appearance from inquiring eyes. On the contrary. If you’ve ever wondered what that stuff feels like, it is like one of those horribly painful sunburns where even the softest silk feels like sandpaper against your skin – where simply moving is agony – where you absolutely positively do not want some smart aleck little brother to come along and slap you for the sheer enjoyment of your misery. Trying to wear a raspy mask over psoriasis is actually quite painful.

No, that is too good.  Pull some fibers on this part so Americans' noses itch.  Then they'll  have to scratch and will give themselves the flu.  Mwahaha!

Despite how much this looks exactly like one of my drawings, it is actually borrowed from the internet.

Americans are very polite about something like this. Nobody pointed at me and shouted, “Eww, that’s grody to the max!” In fact, they said nothing. If I brought up my appearance, though, they would jump in with tons of questions and healthy curiosity. Speaking as the resident weirdo, insults aren’t nice, but saying “Hey, what happened?” is perfectly fine. It’s OK to ask questions. The elephant in the room knows it’s there.

Getting to wear my unique gift from God on my face has made things harder when it comes to business. It is difficult to approach people with confidence and try to introduce them to my work. It is also more difficult to get a service sector job where you are the face of a business. While no one will admit that “fugly” is the reason for not hiring you, you will simply find that someone else always gets the job.

Have I tried medical care for dealing with this condition? Yes. The doctor charged me $300 for a 5 min consultation. Her advice? Hydrocortisone. Mmm hmm…Yup, I am definitely in the wrong line of work.

At least Real Life Toby doesn’t care about how I look.

Mom, mostly I look at you from this angle, and all I see is up your broken nose.

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Royal Purple Velvet Pillows are now back in stock! These 10″ pillows would make a wonderful gift for the whimsical child in your life – or the whimsical child inside yourself! Each pillow is trimmed with gold braid and has a silky tassel at each corner. The center is secured by two matching fabric buttons which give the pillow a pleasingly plump look.

These pillows and other fine gifts are available from my shop at L Bowman Studios. All items are made in America and ready to ship.

Caught in the Act

Toby was so pleased with himself chewing off the pumpkin’s stem…until when he wanted to pick it up and carry it around. Then he had no way to grasp it. Did he learn? I’m sure he didn’t.

After Toby had his fun with the pumpkin, I washed it off, cut it up into pieces and froze it for him to eat later. Now the humble decorative pumpkin can help to keep my boy regular for weeks to come.

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Country Fresh
Orchid Bread Cloth

Fixing a fancy pumpkin for your terrier? Perhaps a decorative bread cloth might make the even more festive. If your pup is like mine, he or she will greatly enjoy running around the house while shaking this new treasure.

These decorative bread cloths and many other fine gifts can be found in my shop at L Bowman Studios.

All products are handmade and here in the US ready to ship.

Where Oh Where

Where, oh where

has my little dog gone?

Oh where, oh where

can he be?

He’s back at home

hiding under the bed.

You silly,

silly puppy!

Roar!

In the few seconds that I was distracted, a certain furry someone sneaked under the bed and fell asleep. As I cluelessly walked past, I found a grouchy terrier affixed to my slipper.

Since Toby has been sleeping in his kennel, we have barely had any run ins like this one, and things are much better between us. I doubt Toby realizes why, but he is a happier, less stressed out pup.

(And yes, I do need my name on the slippers so I can tell mine from Toby’s.)

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

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Looking for a beautiful yet practical gift to give this holiday season? Consider giving a handmade quilt or afghan. Not only would you be giving a loving gift to someone you care about, but you would be supporting a cottage, American-based industry as well.

These and other fine gifts can be found in my shop at L Bowman Studios.

Another Unguarded Picture Falls Victim

Remember, staging is very important when pretending that you’ve done a painting. Note how I’ve covered the work surface with newspapers to imply that I am trying to protect it. Another touch might to have a palette or brushes next to the picture. Done correctly, the ruse can be quite convincing.

In the meantime, my picture needs a name. Any suggestions? Pixie? Pugsly? Cujo?

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To see more like this little pug, visit my website L Bowman Studios.

Touch

So, everyone has been practicing doing tricks and training with their pups this weekend, not just eating turkey and pumpkin pie, right?

Geordie at about the age when we did Agility.

Back when Geordie was a tiny puppy, I took him to an Agility class to try to find a way to wear him out. (You can stop laughing now.) For it to count when a dog comes down the incline, he/she has to touch the yellow bar at the bottom with a paw. Most dogs like to jump over that spot, so we were told to hold our hands down and teach the pup to touch our hands as they went past. That would slow them enough to get them to touch the yellow line.

See the source image

Not my image.

All the other dogs realized that they were supposed to bump their human’s hand with their noses as they went past. Geordie, on the other paw, was very literal. If I held out my hand, he would stop and touch it with his hand. That slowed him too much, and he would end up with a lousy time.

For my boy I had to teach him “paw touch” and “nose touch”. Later I applied the commands to a number of different things. If your dog is good at paw touch, a nifty way to use the skill is to have them press down on the ribbon as you tie a bow on Christmas presents. Just for fun, I would let Geordie choose which paper I used on which gift. That was another paw touch moment. He had fun doing that.

Probably the easiest ways to teach Touch is by example. I would sit down on the floor with Geordie and touch a ball and say, “Mommy touch ball, now Geordie touch ball”. When he was first learning, I might prompt him by pointing at his paw then the ball. As soon as he touched it, I would cheer and give him a treat. As the pup gains confidence, you can have him touch things that aren’t immediately in front of him. Have him walk several steps to touch something. Eventually he can go across a room to do Touch. Most dogs will touch things with their paws. The goal here is to associate the word with the action so that you have a command.

As I worked with Geordie, I taught him the names for his body parts. He knew ear, eye, nose, front paw, back paw, fur, back, tummy and tail. After I taught him his body parts, I would ask him “Where is mommy’s paw?” or tell him “Touch mommy’s ear”, and he would have to touch the right body part. The one that made both Geordie and Toby laugh was “Nose touch mommy’s nose”.

If you were looking for ways to teach your pup Touch, these are some fun ways to incorporate the command into everyday life.

Everyday life? Do I look like an everyday dog to you?!

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Dream Our World

Looking for stocking stuffers for the holidays? Then look no more! Dream Our World is here in the country and available for immediate purchase. Loved by old and young, Bitey and Toby’s adventures in Dream Our World are sure to make everyone smile!

I Sit

I sit…

with my hand clutching the blue marbled slab,

cramped so badly I fear it will never unfurl,

ears straining in vain to hear the words to release

me from this prison.

I sit…

My back aches.

My bladder screams.

My eyes no longer see this world

but view strange vistas from another.

I sit…

and my once vibrant puppy dog

so full of life!

now motionless on the floor.
His anguished cries of hunger finally at an end.*

I sit…

as the sun runs away

the stars sleep

the mountains lie down

and the oceans no longer cry tears.

It’s dark, and still I sit…

waiting…

on hold…

with the IRS.

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Can you guess what I spent my day doing? Yes, sitting on hold with the IRS.

On the plus side, the agent I dealt with was very professional and courteous. He was helpful and was able to handle my question quickly. On the down side, the IRS doesn’t have a call back system. You’ve just got to wait on hold until your turn comes up (multiple hours), and they have awful, awful hold music. We once had a discussion here about ”insipid”. That would be a good word to describe their eternally-looping music.

My advice before calling the IRS:

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged.
  • Have a light snack.
  • Be sure to use the facilities first.
  • Walk and feed your dog! ( – Toby)

Mom, this is soooo boring. Come playchasewith me instead.

*In case you were worried, Toby stopped complaining because he fell asleep. He didn’t die of hunger.

How to Train an Incorrigible, Determined, Intelligent Terrier

In case you were interested in how I taught Geordie flashcards, I’ll give a brief overview of what I did.

Initially, I was looking for ways to keep my bitey boy busy. I started with obedience training, but since I don’t like that phrase, I called it ”Doing Tricks”. When I asked Geordie if he wanted to do tricks, he would run to the kitchen to get started.

We began with the basics of sit, down and stay. Later we added beg, roll over, spin, spin the other way, crawl, crawl backwards, run a figure eight around my legs, etc. Pups like these fast-moving, physical tricks. Later you can use them to help the pup focus.

Once Geordie learned those things, we worked on “Which hand is it in?” and Left Paw/Right Paw. When I asked Geordie to touch my ”left paw”, I thought he would touch the hand that was on his left, but he knew to switch for my orientaion. Smart puppies. You can also teach Come/Back Up, Up/Down, Hot/Cold…anything that will help your dog to see that words can represent a variety of concepts.

After those tricks, I worked on Touch games. I would choose something – maybe his stuffed animal Bobo – and ask him to touch it. When he did, he got a treat. If he touched me, he got nothing, but I would give the command again. The next day we might do ”Touch the ball” until he did it well. After that I would have both Bobo and a ball, and he would have to touch the correct one to get a treat. The pup must do it right on the first try to get treats and praise. If not, just give the command again. If he/she still can’t get it, move onto other tricks they know so they don’t get discouraged.

When Geordie had trouble focusing on a new task, I would have him run through some active tricks (run around, sit, down) very quickly then immediately ask him to touch one of the toys. He was near perfect after one of these fast-paced warm ups.

It was after Geordie was used to doing touch commands that I moved onto flashcards. I think our first letters were A and G because they looked different. I taught him like we do little humans. “This is A as in Adventure. This is G as in Geordie.” He would have to touch the one I asked for on the first try in order to get a reward.

I noticed a few things about Geordie as we worked on flashcards. I tried setting the cards on the floor to let him touch them, but it were as if he couldn’t see them. I figured that dogs can’t see things well from that angle. They must rely on scent when items are close.

I also tried hanging the cards on the wall for him to touch, but again, it were as if he couldn’t see them. I don’t know if just Geordie couldn’t or if all dogs are that way.

People loved to play this letter game with Geordie. Sometimes one person would hold up the cards then close her eyes and turn her head away so she couldn’t see what she was holding. Another person would stand behind Geordie and call out letters, and he would still get them right.

These are the stages we went through. I am presuming that if you are reading this you know the basics of dog training like length of sessions and when to treat/click.

How long did this process take? Months. Geordie was six months old when I started with Heel, Sit, Stay and the like. Then we worked on the Motion Tricks and the Touch tricks. He was probably a year old before we tried our first letters.

Working like this really helped Geordie and me. I can’t stress enough how difficult of a pup he was. It took a while but I finally realized that his anger was actually frustration that he couldn’t communicate. Here I had my own canine Helen Keller.

Happy Cairn terrier pup

I was much happier once mom realized I was trying to talk.

If I forgot anything or if you have questions, just post. I’m always happy to brag about my boys. 😊

Gasoline, Schmasholine

Everyone is complaining about high fuel costs, but my tale of inflation is worse. Oh so much worse!

I had to pick up this scant amount of art supplies, and it cost $36 friggin’ dollars!

From now on I am doing pet portraits with finger paints. The Bitey Dogs will have to go naked and be black and white. Sheesh, talk about highway robbery…

I can’t speak for Illustrated Me, but Real Me likes going nekkid.

Geordie Does Flashcards

Baby Geordie was a dynamo with more energy than I knew how to deal with. When I took him to dog school, they recommended that during the winter, we humans get a book of tricks and keep our pups busy indoors during the bad weather. Geordie learned every trick in the book (literally) so quickly that I had to make up new ones to keep him busy. One thing I tried was flashcards.

I didn’t know if a dog could learn to read or not, but I thought I would give it a try. I started out with The letters A and G because they looked dissimilar. I told him “A as in Adventure”* and “G as in Geordie”. He quickly learned those, so I kept adding more.

Again, I didn’t know if he might eventually sound out words like little humans do or if he would learn each word as its own unique symbol. In case it was the first way, I taught him phonetically. It turned out the second way, though. When you see Geordie’s flashcards, it will look like I don’t know how to spell.

I don’t have a YouTube account, so I posted a video of Geordie doing flashcards on my website. Geordie Doing Flashcards. It is at the bottom of the page if you keep scrolling. (In the photo to the left of it, I am holding the cards for “jump” and “kitty”.)

Over the years, we built up quite a huge stack of flashcards, and Geordie learned an astonishing number of concepts. Rather than using “dog language”, Geordie preferred to use English. He insisted I teach him the word for everything in his environment.

Whenever I mention Geordie talking to me or telling me something, I don’t mean a Son of Sam scenario. If Geordie wanted to tell me something, he would poke me in the leg to get my attention. Then he would make eye contact, heave a big sigh, sit down and stick out his lower teeth. At that point I would start asking him questions, and he would either nod yes or shake his head no or he would point to something (indicate direction or gesture toward an object) or he would tap one of those cards. So many people were surprised when they would ask Geordie a question, and he would answer. Around here he was known as Geordie the Talking Dog.

Before I got sick and my world fell apart, I had studied to be an English as a Second Language teacher. I never got the opportunity to teach humans, but working with Geordie allowed me to use many of those skills.

I don’t need words to tell you I like pumpkin!

  • I realized early on that Geordie picked up on English very quickly, so I never talked to him about “Going for a ride” or “Going in the car”. I didn’t want to accidentally perk his ears up. Instead I used the word Adventure which I rarely use in general conversation.

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Give the gift of warmth this holiday season! Ladies cabled socks are available in a variety of colors in my shop at L Bowman Studios. (Handsome gifts for men are also available!)