Mom, I Miss You Already

Coco, a chocolate Miniature Poodle, wrote this blog (with help from "Emmy the Pet Sitter").

Dear Mom,

What is an Alaskan cruise? And why do you have to go to Alaska for it? I wave my paw as you and Evelyn board the shuttle, but my tiny Poodle heart is breaking.

Emmy, my pet-sitter, suggested I keep a journal to help with my feelings of abandonment (sniff). So here I am in Prescott, writing and pining for you. I thought "pine" was just a tree in our yard, but it's a verb, too.

Mom, what's a verb? Emmy is an editor, and she's teaching me new words.

I like Emmy. I'm not going to say anything to her, but I'm a little worried. Did you tell her that when I sit up and wave my paws it means "I'm hungry"? Did you show her how to mix my food--a little wet, a little dry, warm water, and a smidge of treat? Did you tell her to rest her arm on my car seat so I can snooze?

I bet Emmy won't tell you this, but our first night she forgot to tuck my ears under my collar before I ate. It turned out all right. I licked the leftovers from my ears in the middle of the night. It wasn't too bad, actually.

I know you told Emmy about my (ahem) sensitive tummy. You could have left that out, Mom. Emmy kept me out of the kitchen while she ate dinner, just like you do, and didn't let me lick her plate. She had quiche. I don't know what quiche is, but I could have had some if you hadn't told Emmy about my tummy.

Emmy felt sorry for me. "Coco, I'm going to give you a sound bite you can use when your mom gets back."

A bite of sound? That could be tasty. You couldn't eat a sound bite, Emmy explained. A sound bite was something that would make people believe what you were saying.

Here is what Emmy told me to say: "Mom, each of us is responsible for caring for Earth, our only home. One dog can make a world of difference. If I lick the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher it would be an eco-friendly, water-saving measure."

What do you think, Mom?


Shopping! Shopping!

"Four Paws Up!" for stores that welcome dogs, I say. Dogs like to shop! My personalized collar is proof. Luckily, Emmy was like-minded.

"Coco, we're going to a Healing Fair," she said one day.

A "Heeling" Fair? It sounded like school. I'm pretty well behaved, so I won't say I was looking forward to it. We drove into the parking lot of The Mesa, the store near the Granite Dells, and I saw the sign: a Healing Fair. Whew!

Priscilla's Pueblo Gifts sold Native American jewelry and pottery. "What a cute dog!" cried Priscilla. She took a picture of me on her cell phone. Me!

Emmy bought Indian bread but wouldn’t give me one crumb. (Don't tell her, but I ate the breadcrumbs she dropped on the kitchen floor. Yum!)

Then Emmy had her aura photo taken. It didn't look like her at all. Her face was covered in yellow and orange.

"That's the energy I give off, Coco," said Emmy. I didn't want to be cruel, Mom, so I didn't say anything. But the $25 she paid for that photo would have bought a lot of dog treats.

I can't say I felt healed when I left the Healing Fair, but I felt better than when I arrived.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Emmy and I didn't run across a single ghost in Jerome, the ghost town between Prescott and Sedona. Emmy said the scariest thing about Jerome was the prices. Oh, and the long winding drive through the Prescott National Forest.

If Emmy hadn't held my leash so tightly, I might have been able to climb into a comfy looking bowl that was just my size in the Connor Hotel Store. The hotel, which is dog friendly, is more than 100 years old, and I could smell almost everything that ever happened there. Emmy couldn't relax. One minute she'd look at a price tag and gasp; the next she'd tug my leash and hiss, "Coco! No!"

I had a great time.

Magdalena's Bazaar was bizarre, Mom. It had a table with legs—a lady's legs, with stockings and shoes and everything. Emmy said it was folk art. I thought it was just weird.

What would a store called Sky Fire sell? Clouds and matches, I decided. Nope. But one of the things they sell is jewelry and carvings made from fossilized ivory, from 250,000-year-old mammoths, mastodons and walrus.

I started to think. What if they sold out of trinkets made from mammoths? What if they wanted to make jewelry out of, say, present-day canines? I broke into a sweat. Susan, who bakes fresh doggy biscuits every morning, put me at ease. Emmy bought a magnetic photo frame with a horse on it to encourage her with her dream of buying a horse.

I looked forward to Emmy's favorite shop, Designs On You, where the owner brings her dog in with her. Darn it, neither the owner or her dog were there. Emmy tried on all sorts of colorful clothes. "Coco, you're my Tim Gunn," said Emmy. "What do you think of this dress?"

Wait a minute--did Emmy say "gun?" I didn't know shopping was dangerous. I nervously wagged my tail. Emmy bought a va-va-va-voom, if I say so myself, sundress by Rainbow Jo. I wish I had a Hawaiian dress, Mom. Then Emmy and I could look like sisters!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Emmy was happily surprised she could bring me to so many places. I thought everyone knew that Prescott is a dog-friendly town. Prescott even holds a Dogtoberfest every fall!

We didn't go to the PETCO or Pet Smart; Emmy said those stores were too pedestrian (noun and adverb, who knew?). Instead we went to pet boo-teeks. Oops--it's spelled "boutiques," which should be pronounced, "boo-teh-kwee-sss." Writing a journal is more stressful than I thought it would be.

At the Pet Depot Barkery, on Gurley Street, I rearranged the bottom-shelf merchandise but Charlotte, the owner, didn't mind a bit. Charlotte has a bakery for dogs and wanted to give me a big cookie, but Emmy nixed that plan. Charlotte gave me a tasty treat, though. Emmy told Charlotte you would visit the shop.

At Tickled Pink I turned green with envy over the K9NV collars. K9NV (get it? canine envy?) meets the "needs of pampered pets." I have needs, Mom. I know I have a collar, but Emmy says a girl can never have too many collars. Or did she say jewelry?

Emmy drove by Supporting Rescued Pets twice before she found it. It's not glitzy like the shops around the courthouse, but they had doggy Christmas ornaments and dishtowels and all sorts of things. They have a Sponsor-A-Pet Tree. You and I should sponsor a pet. Wait--I don't get an allowance. I guess you'd have to foot the bill, Mom.

Look how brave I am, standing next to a big hairy German Shepherd. OK, he's fake. But I look brave. Seriously, you should visit SRP, Mom. Proceeds from gift items go to local animal shelters and rescue organizations. They don't have a web site and Emmy says that's the kiss of death. And then what would happen to the poor dogs and cats? It made me want to cry. I'm so lucky I have you.
(SRP Collection, 722 E. Sheldon St., 928-445-4338)

Speaking of web sites, Emmy thought my journal would be better as a blog. With pictures. Online, no less. And with Emmy correcting my mistakes and adding her opinion from time to time to time. I had mixed feelings, Mom. I didn't want the entire world to know how much I miss you. But how many times would I, as a budding writer, have the chance to work with a professional editor? Formerly of National Geographic, no less.

We agreed to collaborate. Emmy loves playing on a computer. I did a fair amount of waiting for her down in our basement. Glad you put a dog bed down there, Mom (yawn). G' night.

Walkin' the Dog

Mom, I miss our early morning walks. "I need my beauty sleep," Emmy yawns every morning, and pulls the covers over her head. Thank goodness for the doggy door.

When she first wakes up, Emmy is a tad slow. Sometimes I wait in our front yard and gaze at Thumb Butte. Think of that: I can see the most famous landmark in Prescott from my own yard! I'm a lucky dog.

Then it's time for a walk in the neighborhood. If Bud is in his yard he likes to scratch behind my ears while he talks. One time Bud invited us in to celebrate Dot's birthday. I won't say which one; a lady doesn't discuss her age. People were eating cake, but Emmy made sure I didn't get any. Mom, did you tell Emmy about my (ahem) sensitive tummy? If you did, that's going to take a lot of the fun out of things for the next two weeks.

After we walk in the flatter areas, Emmy and I walk up the hill to the house that was on HGTV. I know some neighbors thought the house was funny looking, but I don't mind. I wish they had a dog, though. One evening we ran into my Dachshund friend Sunshine and her people, Lynn and Carol.

Emmy drove out Williamson Valley Road so she could look at horse properties, but before we got far I requested a pit stop. Emmy pulled into Southview, which she realized was a ritzy neighborhood. Nevertheless, I had to do what I had to do. A dog can get away with anything (tee hee). Emmy smiled nonchalantly at the rich people as she bagged the evidence.

"Is this going to be like Little Red Riding Hood?" I asked when we drove to the Lower Wolf Creek Campground. What really worried me was that I was wearing my red--not my pink--halter and leash. Absolutely not, Emmy assured me. She was right. No scary forest, no wolves. No gumdrops, either. Darn. There was a quick-footed rabbit I could have caught, if Emmy would have let go of the leash.

One blustery, un-May-like day Emmy and I were sniffing around at the Sharlot Hall Museum, probably the most famous place to visit in Prescott, when the wind whipped my ears in what I thought was a fetching way. Was it possible? Could I be suited for a modeling career?

"I don't think so," laughed Emmy. "You look more like the Flying Nun."

Mom, what is a Flying None? And how can a "None" fly?

We walked around the courthouse and along Whiskey Row. Although more than 50 bars used to be in that one block, Whiskey Row has mostly restaurants and stores for tourists now. Emmy doesn't drink and she wouldn't let me drink, either, so it was pretty tame.

Emmy thought the Chino Valley Spring Fest would be fun, but by the time we got there it was pouring down rain. Dozens of dripping wet people were running toward their cars.

Could we go to the Spring Fest next year, Mom? I want to see the Spam Carving Contest. Yum.

Memorial Day

"Guess who's coming to visit, Coco? Stephanie!" said Emmy on Saturday. "She's going to show me horse properties. Isn't that a great way to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend?"

I wagged my tail. I like your granddaughter Stephanie, Mom. She's pretty. But I was confused. How could a horse get enough money to buy a property? And what was a property?

"It's for me, silly," said Emmy, kissing the top of my head. I guess she could read my mind because she was so close to my head. "It's a house that has enough land a horse to live on. I want to move to the Southwest and own a horse."

Emmy and I piled into Stephanie's van and headed out Williamson Valley Road. It was fun to sit in Emmy's lap. A big Samoyed lived in the first house, so I stayed in the van while Emmy and Stephanie, who is a Realtor, looked around. We looked at three or four houses. Emmy didn't find a house that would work.

"I've got Champagne tastes on a beer budget," sighed Emmy when we went to bed that night. I didn't know what to say, so I just wagged my tail.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

About a year ago Emmy saw a note a woman in Chino Valley posted on the City-Data forum about selling her house, and she emailed Susan. Susan invited us to her house for Memorial Day.

"Look, Coco, horses!" Emmy said as we drove the long, strait, dusty roads of Chino Valley. A lot of people in Chino Valley own horses. We hit a couple of potholes that bounced me right out of my car seat--oof-da! Susan's house was surrounded by huge cottonwood trees.

Susan has three dogs, all of which seemed to bark more in five minutes than I'm allowed to in a year. I was out of my element. Susan was sweet. She shooed the two scariest dogs out of the house and into the front yard. We went into the back yard. There was a corral, a mare motel, and something fat and gray and furry peeking over the fence: a donkey!

The donkey's name was Surprise. Can you see Surprise's long eyelashes in the picture, Mom? Emmy and I fell in love with her. We wanted to bring her back home with us.

For all of her 17 years, Surprise has lived with Susan. No one knew Surprise's mother was pregnant. Then one day out popped a baby donkey. Surprise!

"'Prize brays so loudly every morning I have to get out of bed and feed her at 6:00 a.m.," laughed Susan. I could tell Emmy was thinking about her beauty sleep. It would be just the two of us going home, I knew.

Susan just retired from the sheriff's office. I looked around nervously. I was hoping she wouldn't find a reason to handcuff me as I explored her yard. I could write a book about the things I smelled at Susan's house. Plants, shrubs, weeds, wee, squirrels, coyotes, bugs, birds, snakes--you name it. And do you know the best thing? When Emmy went to the bathroom Susan snuck me some treats.

Emmy and I had a good holiday. Thank you, Susan! And thank you, Surprise!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mom, your friend Val, at Elite Reflections, was also in high spirits for Memorial Day. The girls at the shop went all out decorating their year-round artificial tree with a patriotic theme.

"We'll keep the red-white-and-blue on till after the Fourth of July," said Val, who cut and styled Emmy's hair. Val took a picture of Emmy and me by the tree.

"In some parts of Virginia they'd call this a har-do," said Emmy, squinting in the car's vanity mirror. "What do you think, Coco? I like it, but it's more than I'm used to."

I thought Emmy looked great. I wagged my tail. It was time for dinner.

A Party for Dogs!

Prescott gave a party for dogs, Mom!

Well, not really a party, said Emmy. It was the 35th annual Phippen Western Art Show. More than 150 of Arizona's greatest Western artists were there.

I guess that's why everyone yelled "Nooooo!" when I squatted on the burlap floor in Cathy Munson's tent. I was confused; after all, I was outside. And it was just a drop. Emmy apologized to Cathy, who was very nice. Cathy makes beautiful portraits of dogs. Mom, you could ask her to paint my portrait, to make up for my little faux pas. (Look at moi, speaking French!)

I met shepherds, terriers, other poodles, and lots more down at the Courthouse. See the Shar-Pei mix with the scar on his back? His former owners tied him outside and he got a terrible sunburn. He nearly died, but was rescued on Animal Cops, Phoenix. I love that show, Mom! He and his new owner are both happy.

Emmy made me stand next to a Scary Mountain Man so she could take my picture. I don't know why. She got carried away with her camera. I don't want to sound conceited, but I wonder if it was because I'm such an attractive representative of my species?

A man in a blue dress was waving his hands and staring at the trees. Was he practicing Tai Chi or was he a Scary Blue Dress Man? I hope it was Tai Chi, because I followed along for a while. I didn't feel spiritual afterward, but I didn't feel any worse.

Emmy bought a raffle ticket for an Olen J. Miller saddle. She couldn't resist that king size palomino-leather saddle. She has to wait till the Cowboy Poets Gathering to see if she won. Don't wish her luck, Mom. That saddle was huge! I don't think Emmy could pick it up, let alone sling it over a horse.

Across the street the Chamber of Commerce held the 21st Annual Off Street Festival. They had the best smelling food ever: donuts heaped with powdered sugar, juicy hot dogs, cotton candy, corn chips with drippy cheese, and I don't know what. I did my duty as a citizen and snagged every morsel that landed on the ground. Don't blame Emmy, Mom. She tried to stop me but I was too fast. And guess what? My tummy was fine! Fine! Fine!

Seriously, we should reconsider our food policy.

Hot Dog!

I don't know why I left my favorite subject--food--for last.

Any dog that visits Prescott learns soon enough that it's a dog-friendly town. A lot of restaurants let dogs sit in their patio areas. Rooster's Restaurant even gave me a big bowl of water! The problem wasn't with the restaurants: the problem was Emmy.

Emmy never gave me one single bite of her food. She didn't "accidentally" drop any roast beef shavings in her submarine from Rooster's Restaurant. She didn't give me any of the warm, runny brie laced with maple syrup that she slathered on a baguette at the Firehouse Kitchen. (It's killing me to write this! I'm drooling like crazy.) She didn't even dip her finger into her coffee and let me lick it at Starbucks or at the Wild Iris Coffeehouse.

Eating in was the same story: no table scraps. Emmy vaccuumed before you came home so you didn't know, Mom, but she usually left crumbs on the floor after a meal. One of Emmy's favorites was the cranberry walnut raisin loaf of which she found at New Frontiers. I loved those crumbs.

Sometimes Emmy left me alone. (Don't tell her, but I would just take a nap and was fine.) One day she drove to Sedona for a holistic pedicure by Deb Lovejoy.

"Deb is one of my favorite people in the world," said Emmy. "She's spiritual and wise--and her pedicures last for a month!" Emmy wiggled her toes in my face.

My toenails would look fetching with pink polish, all 20 of them. Mom, the next time we're in Sedona, could I get a Holistic Peticure? And could we buy some of the low-sugar scones that Emmy got at New Frontiers? She tried to hide them by eating them in the car on the way home, but you can't fool me. The scones left behind a great number of crumbs in the front seat.

"Coco, I'm going to a play today," said Emmy one morning. I was jealous. I thought she meant she was going "to play" with another dog.

"No, sweetie," said said, scratching under my chin. "I'm using 'play' as a noun. It's a little like a movie. You wouldn't like it."

I beg to differ! Turns out there was a dog in the play. The play, put on by the Prescott Fine Arts Association, was 37 Postcards. Except for the leading man, the leading lady, and the secondary characters, the dog was the star. Even though he was offstage.

But the point of this story isn't about the play, it's that Emmy arrived early and went to the Raven Cafe for iced coffee.

"There were only two people ahead of me in line," Emmy told me later, "and two waitresses behind the counter. But it took 15 minutes before anyone helped me. One of the young waitresses was an angst ridden type who has to tell the the world she Hates Her Job. Finally I stopped being irritated and just laughed at how ridiculous the situation was."

I was sitting on Emmy's lap as she was talking, close enough to sniff her mouth. She'd left out one crucial detail: she'd had eaten a croissant along with that iced coffee.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Maybe instead of being a writer, I should be an actor. Or a chef; I have a discriminating palate. I tell you, Mom, writing this blog has opened up so many worlds for me!

If you want Emmy to visit again, you can go to Emmy the Pet Sitter, her new web site. I'm helping her with it!

Love Coco