Please help me welcome Ruth G. Zavitsanos, the author of two Wild Child children's books, The Villa Dog and The Old Fortress Dog. When you read her blog, you will understand why she can write about dogs so realistically. (g) To call Ruth a dog lover is like saying Cesar Romano is the average dog trainer. (g) While I haven't had the good fortune to meet Ruth in person...yet (I plan to at EPICon in Williamsburg, VA, this March), if you are near Nora Roberts' bookstore on December 4th between 12 and 2 pm, stop by and you can. (Jealous. Jealous. I would be sooo jealous. (g)) She will be signing her books, along with Nora and two other authors.
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Moving day is fast approaching. In order to lock in a "great" mortgage rate, the closing was scheduled two months in advance. Yet, it seems my family is clueless that the MOVE is two weeks away and in the midst of a HOLIDAY! I say this because I am the only one, thus far, to pack an entire box, meaning a box that is filled, taped closed and labeled. (It tempts me to threaten them with "whatever isn't packed won't make it to the next house," but I know just what type of retribution that would produce. sigh--I can dream.) However, I do have a daily reminder of why I am NOT alone in this arduous task.
Following me into the room I plan to tackle that day and sitting at my side, encouraging me throughout with sighs, raised eyebrows, and wet kisses, are what I lovingly and accurately refer to as my "Canine Kids."
They remind me of the days when, as a youngster, my family would al
l pack up for a week at the beach. My mother would laugh as our dog, Dallas (named for the city my brother attended college in not the TV show), would jump in the back of the station wagon with us and say, "Dallas, you don't even have to pack a toothbrush."
Now, as I pack another box, Pebbles and Rocky watch me, sometimes looking amused and others longing for another walk, or seeking my attention for them rather than the cardboard box between us. The other day I packed up a few of the "must have" stuffed animals. Pebbles and Rocky, unpacked the box running around with a variety of zoo animals throughout the house. I left that box for the kids to pack and took the dogs for a walk.
While walking them through our familiar neighborhood route, it occurred to me that my canine kids might find it hard to adjust to the move. I asked the puppy trainer what I should do to prepare or help Rocky and Pebbles. She said, "Routine. You have to get them into a routine in the new house, too." I know this will be easy for our puppy, Rocky. But, I think Pebbles will miss our neighborhood. She often stops along her walks to say "hi" to her human and canine pals.
I thought about my walks in the new neighborhood. It will be good to socialize Rocky and Pebbles with the people and dogs in our new neighborhood. And, I realized that no matter where we go (in this case 1.2 miles away) as long as Rocky and Pebbles go with us, our new residence will fast become a familiar and loving home. I just need to put some holes in the top of a box and carefully mark it Rocky and Pebbles! Kidding! In truth, like Dallas once did, they will jump in the back of the car without having to pack a toothbrush. However, they will be bringing with them all the joy and comforts of home!
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Excerpt from The Old Fortress Dog
Ruth G. Zavitsanos
We arrived at the Old Fortress and I jumped out of the truck. I ran to the front gate, ready to work. Each day offered something new at the Old Fortress. The way Nikolaus leaped out of the truck and ran after me I knew he felt the same. People stood in line when my master took his seat behind the ticket booth. An Australian family joked while purchasing their tickets. "It's not the outback, but we still need to stay together. Harold, that especially means you. Sarah, keep an eye on your little brother."
I raised my ears and followed close behind the young boy. Nikolaus greeted the family before taking them on the tour. "The cannons are replicas of the original ones that stood precisely in this place to protect Corfu and keep enemies from invading the island," Nikos said pointing to the two black cannons facing out to sea.
After leaving the sight of the cannons, Harold climbed on top of one, and his older sister took pictures.
"Come on, Sarah, we have to keep up with our guide," her father hollered.
"Just a minute. I'm getting some fun shots of Harold playing soldier." His older sister snapped a few more shots and took off.
Harold did not follow her. I stood in the distance watching as he climbed on the shiny black cannons. When my master gave the tour, he warned the visitors not to climb on the cannons because not only could they get hurt, but the cannons were to be preserved to keep the Old Fortress as it once appeared during the days of battle.
When the boy slipped and fell, I barked. He did not get hurt. I continued to bark because he climbed another cannon. This one was close to the edge. I feared the boy would fall off the cliff. My bark grew deeper and louder. The boy ignored me, amused by his proximity to the dangerous rocky-lined sea.
I stopped barking and thought hard about what my master told Nikos to do throughout the tour. "You must always count the heads. This will make certain everyone in the tour is with you and that no one has strayed off." With that thought, I heard voices approaching. I barked and Nikos hollered my name. Harold stood at the edge of the cannon, lost his footing, and I leaped clutching his leather belt with my teeth as the boy dangled near the edge, crying for help.