This Little Piggy

this little piggy wanted to go to the market

piggy_marketbut instead he had to stay home

this little piggy wanted sympathy

piggy_homebut indeed he got none

so he cried “boo hoo hoo” until daddy came home

piggy_boohoo

that’s when this little piggy got a pleasant surprise

and his little piggy mind would be blown

“A short stack for Short Round!” yelled his kind daddy

piggy_shortcakesand indeed the piggy had some

piggy_shortcakes3and cried, “mmm mm mmm!!!!” until they were all gone

piggy_mmm

The Escape Game

My husband and I spent a long weekend in Nashville not too long ago. While we were there, we did something called “The Escape Game.” The basic premise is that you are locked in a themed room with a few other people and have to work together to find clues and solve puzzles to get the code that will allow you to “escape” the room. Oh, and you only have 60 minutes to do it. On average, less than 40% of the people who play actually escape. We were some of the lucky ones – we escaped. We shouted for joy and jumped up and down with the 4 women we were paired with as the door opened. It was an absolute blast! Later that day as my husband and I were rehashing our victory, I found myself thinking about Jacques’ escape games – except they weren’t games and it definitely didn’t take him 60 minutes to get out.

When we adopted Jacques, my husband, Rocky, Jacques, and I were all out in the backyard one afternoon when Jacques spotted a cat and decided he needed to go after it. He was able to get his nose underneath one of our large gates. I watched but wasn’t terribly concerned because I didn’t think he could fit his pork chop little body through that tiny space. That’s what I got for thinking. As I stood there, I watched Jacques push with all his might until he popped through the small space at the bottom of the gate. I. Was. Dumbfounded. By the time we were able to get the large gate open and get to the front of the house, Jacques was nowhere to be seen. I was frantic. My husband (always one to come to my rescue) started running. About 10 minutes later he came back carrying a very dirty and grumbling Jacques. My relief was short lived as Jacques pulled this escape act once more before treating us to his grand finale (which wasn’t his fault).

gate_escape

The large gate Jacques managed to squeeze under.

A short time after Jacques’ first two escape attempts, my in-laws had come down to help us level out our back yard and to fill the hole under the gate. We worked all day dumping and spreading dirt and were quite pleased with the results. That evening as everyone was enjoying being clean and full, I realized something was wrong. We had let Rocky and Jacques out a little earlier… and Rocky wasn’t at the back door demanding to be let in. I immediately knew something was wrong. I went outside to check on them and found that the large gate was completely open. Rocky and Jacques weren’t in the back yard or around the front of the house. I was so scared. Rocky was old and Jacques was crazy – I had no idea where they would be. With my heart in my throat and panic coursing through my veins, I got my husband’s attention to let him know that the boys were gone. I had no idea which way to go – it was dark, we live on the outskirts of town, there’s a large wooded area behind us where a pack of coyotes live, Rocky was old and couldn’t see well… Did I mention I was frantic??

I took off running. It turned out that I only had to go one house over. Next door, Rocky was “watering” our neighbor’s plants. And Jacques was “watering” Rocky’s leg. I almost passed out from relief. I squatted down, held open my arms, and called out to Rocky. He turned around and gave me a Rocky smile before ambling over to me. Jacques followed suit.  About that time, my husband and in-laws found us. (If my in-laws didn’t already think I was crazy, my actions that night pretty much sealed the deal.) We made sure the gate was closed and locked before retiring for the night. I hugged my boys extra tight that night and thanked my lucky stars that they were home with me. Now after doing any yard work, I check the gates to make sure they are shut and locked before I let Jacques out and I check on him often. Unless I forget he’s outside.

Rocky in his younger years escaping to the pond...

Rocky in his younger years escaping to the pond…

Rocky enjoying his escape...

where he enjoyed his escape (5/2009).

I don’t have pictures from the night that Rocky and Jacques got out, so I thought I’d share some fun pictures of Rocky during a supervised escape to the pond at my in-laws’ house.

Jacques still pokes his nose out under the large gate, but he seems content with letting that be as far as he ever goes. Thank goodness. I can’t handle any more of his escape games!

Jacques likes to peek under the fence to see what the cats next door are doing.

Jacques likes to peek under the fence to see what the cats next door are doing.

Furry Flashbacks – LOL

In April 2010, Niko, Rocky, and I were at my then boyfriend’s house (now husband) for a family gathering. There was a ton of great food being eaten by a bunch of festive people. I noticed that Rocky had dropped off the radar and set out to find him. Once I found him, I had to figure out what in the heck he was doing – which didn’t take long. I think this series of photos says it all. I laughed so hard when I saw what he was doing. To this day, I still laugh out loud when I see the pictures. They are just so Rocky.

Look closely… and enjoy!
LOL1LOL2LOL3LOL4

Furry Flashbacks – Big Toys for Big Boys

A number of years ago (like 7 or 8), I helped with a garage sale that benefited some local animal rescues. As we were loading up the unsold items to take to Goodwill, I noticed a very large stuffed duck. I thought it was hilarious and brought it home for Niko who had a thing for stuffed animals.

Niko was VERY excited to receive this new, giant baby. He quickly grabbed the duck and headed for the back door. He tried to push it out the partially open sliding glass door but instead fell over it and out the door. He didn’t let that deter him… He grabbed the duck from the outside and tugged with all his might over and over before it finally popped loose and sent him somersaulting backwards. He then proceeded to trot back and forth across the yard with the duck in a victory parade of sorts before he settled down to gnaw on the toy.
niko&duckAbout a year later Niko was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a very aggressive form of cancer. After surgery to remove the tumor, he underwent chemotherapy. One of my co-workers (who was an ovarian cancer survivor) told me about her chemotherapy experience, so I knew that it was going to be a rough road for him. One week, he was having a really hard time. My boy, who was normally so full of life, was a shadow of his former self. He seemed so down and depressed. I remembered how happy he was when he saw that giant duck, so I set out to find him another one. Luckily for me it was right around Easter and the local pet store was overflowing with giant sheep, ducks, and bunnies. I grabbed a duck for Niko and a sheep for Rocky and rushed home. Though I could tell he still felt awful, it was so wonderful to see the flicker of happiness in his eyes when he saw me with that duck. He grabbed it and dragged it into the back yard where he proceeded to slobber all over it. When he could, he would drag the duck through the house with him and would often sleep with it. When he couldn’t move it, I would bring it to him and watch him almost sigh with relief. He finished his chemo soon thereafter and was cancer-free for another almost two years. He loved that duck so much that I had to sew the silly thing up THREE times and wash it countless times (he LOVED to drag it though the backyard).

Niko with his duck in 2008.

Niko with his duck in 2008.

Niko with his duck a month before crossing the Rainbow Bridge in 2010.

Niko with his duck a month before crossing the Rainbow Bridge in 2010.

Though Niko is no longer with me, I still have the giant duck. He sits atop the bookcase in my office and looks down on me while I work. I look at the duck and think of the silliness that was Niko and how much I will always love him.
duck(For the record, Rocky’s sheep lasted about 30 seconds before he had the head ripped off and stuffing strewn across the backyard.)

A few weeks ago, I saw a bin of giant ducks, sheep, frogs, and cows. I couldn’t help but think of how much Niko would have loved those. I started to get one for Jacques but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wasn’t ready. About a week ago I saw the bin again and knew what needed to be done. I picked out the biggest, plushest frog I could find and brought it home. Jacques was overjoyed and though the frog was bigger than him, he didn’t let it stop him from dragging it around the house, cuddling with it, and even sleeping on it. It made me happy. In fact, I laughed hysterically for a long time. It was a reminder that loves comes in all shapes and sizes – we just need to keep an open heart.

IMG_2851 IMG_2854Jacques may not be big in size like my other boys, but his heart is every bit as big. And his ego… Well, his ego is much, MUCH bigger.