Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- love sick June 16, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:36 am
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The dog has been slurping in the toilet

He saunters down the hall,

water dripping from his muzzle,

stops beside me, gazing adoringly,

and kisses my arm with long wet strokes.

As he flops to clean his privates,

I go off in search of soap.


poem- fuzziness March 17, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:52 pm
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Two fluffy poodles

curled commas on pillows

Wearing winter coats


haiku- hot dog July 28, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:25 pm
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Overheating dog

stretching out on the cool–floor’s

better than a swim.



It’s better because I have poodles, and drying after the swim is beyond onerous!  Despite the breed being named for their task of bird-dogging into puddles, I prefer mine to stay dry, and they seem of the same mind!


image April 12, 2011

Filed under: poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:17 am
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You know how the magazines chase celebrities and shoot pictures of them without their makeup or in slobby clothes so they can say, “Ooh, look how nasty s/he looks when s/he’s not working!  S/he’s falling apart!”  Most of us don’t look our best 24 hours a day.  We may have to run out for milk without our most presentable ensemble on.  At home, we aren’t always gorgeous.  We wear our sweats, go without our make-up, and don’t worry about projecting a stunning, glamorous image.  Image is a false picture of reality.  No one is perfect all the time.

Take OJ.  A few days ago I showed you a photo of him looking all glamorous in a Continental clip.  He knows he looks good.  He prances with all the poodle panache of a champion in the ring at Westminster.  He looks classy.  If we’re out for a walk, Japanese tourists ask to take photos with him.  Strangers stop on the street to comment on how amazing he looks.  People in parking lots stop us to tell us what a beautiful dog he is.  Yup.  A standard poodle in the flesh is impressive.  Very much like meeting a celebrity.

But at home, all that “classy poodle” image stuff goes out the window.  OJ is just a dog.  Well.  Not quite a dog, but you know what I mean.

yeah- he's just that sexy


Dusty the Shadow September 20, 2010

Filed under: poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:02 am
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When Dusty was a puppy, our house was divided on what to call him.  The boys voted for “Shadow.”  The girls voted for “Dusty.”  (After Dusty Strings Harps in Seattle, as he was likely the only Dusty I’d ever be able to afford).  Over the years it has become clear that we really should have gone with the boys on this one, because Dusty really is a shadow, and it has gotten him into many interesting predicaments.

The problem with being a shadow, is that you are ubiquitous, so people don’t necessarily even notice you following along behind them.  On many occasions we’ve lost Dusty, only to follow the sounds of his cries back into the garage.  We nipped out there to put out the garbage or grab a tool without knowing he was behind us, and then he was stuck there, sometimes for several hours, until someone noticed him missing and started hunting for him.

He once got stuck in an under-stair cold room that way.  He tried to eat his way out through the punch bowl box. 

The most traumatic event happened when he was still a puppy.  It was a -20 degree Celsius day in Prince George.  The snow was about four feet deep in our yards.  I had just finished wallpapering my daughter’s bedroom and had given Dusty a bath.  He was blown dry, but still a little damp.  My husband helped me put the daughter’s heavy mate’s bed into position, then the door bell rang.  I went to deal with the salesman and then started on dinner.

After some time, Dusty’s absence was noted.  We looked through the house calling for him, we checked the garage and the pantry.  He was no where to be found.  Then it hit me.  When I’d been talking to the salesman at the door, he must have snuck out of the house.

I got in the car and started combing the white streets, calling for him and looking for a freshly trimmed, brown poodle against the snow.  Slightly damp, he’d freeze to death out there in short order.  I phoned the radio station, the SPCA and the vets offices to put out the word.  The whole family was in a panic and  tearful over the loss of our little dog who was only a few months old.

Many hours later, my daughter came upstairs to tell us she could hear funny noises.  We listened.  We couldn’t hear anything upstairs, but in the basement we could make out weak little whimpers.  Where were they coming from?  We combed the house again, straining our ears, trying to figure out the source of the sound.  Eventually, we tracked them into her bedroom.  We looked in the closet, behind all the furniture, under the dressers.  No sign, and yet a faint little noise was still audible.

Suddenly we realised where he was.  We pulled out one of the drawers from her mates bed and sure enough, the volume was louder. We pulled out another drawer and out scrambled a very happy puppy.  Somehow when we’d lowered that heavy mate’s bed back onto the ground, he’d gotten stuck in one of the compartments.  He’d been stuck there in the dark for about six hours by the time we found him.

These days Dusty still shadows us, but we’ve gotten better at checking for him before we shut doors behind us.  He has also gotten much louder at letting us know he’s left out.  His demanding woof is louder than OJ’s, and OJ outweighs him three times!  This is a lesson.  If you’re too close to the big people, you may get into situations where you’re left alone in the dark.  Shout loudly, and someone will rescue you.


Why I love poodles August 27, 2010

Filed under: Commentary,poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:37 am
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  1. Three sizes for your convenience (4 if you’re in Europe).
  2. Unlimited solid colour options (and unofficially, parti colours too).
  3. No shedding.
  4. Intelligence
  5. Enthusiasm
  6. Unexpected delights
  7. No shedding
  8. Topiary opportunities
  9. High energy when high energy is required
  10. Low energy when low energy is required
  11. Friendly
  12. Really intelligent
  13. No shedding
  14. No stinky dog smell
  15. Problem solving abilities
  16. Affectionate
  17. Loyal
  18. No shedding
  19. Versatility- hunting, obedience, agility, conformation, anything goes! (and sometimes all at once!)
  20. Old, established breed (no surprises)
  21. Funny
  22. Sense of humour
  23. No shedding
  24. Established, well documented pedigrees (know family health history)
  25. Beautiful faces
  26. Elegant & sophisticated (from a distance!)
  27. Goofy
  28. Laid back
  29. No shedding
  30. Joyful
  31. Valued so much that everyone wants to mix their breed with a poodle in order to improve  it  (Just get a poodle and save yourself the trouble!)
  32. Long lived


Why do you love poodles?


bad talents (part 5) July 16, 2010

Continued misadventures of Kimelle’s Optimum Jive aka OJ the standard poodle  

The (first) Near Death Experience.  

True and very scary story.  However, like most true and scary stories, it has its comical elements.  So while we’re laughing about this, I know we are all very aware of how very, very close this was to being a tragedy.   Consider this a cautionary tale.

I tend to have the TV on, my notebook computer out, and be reading  (or writing) a book well into the wee hours of the morning.  The dogs (OJ and Dusty, his mini-poo brother who is much less prone to life threatening idiocy) fall asleep on a couch or their pillows, keeping me company until lock them up for the night when I finally head off to bed.  One night, I fell asleep on the couch around 2 a.m. and woke up again at 4 a.m.  I staggered down the hall to lock up the dogs in their room, and crashed on my bed.  At 8 a.m. I was attacked by a flying poodle.  

Normally, my husband wakes up first, gets the dogs up, outside and serves them breakfast.  Then he locks the two of them in the bedroom with me when he heads off to work.  (We endeavour to keep the dogs contained when we aren’t supervising them, for obvious reasons).  I am usually awakened by my radio blaring, and open my eyes to find OJ’s nose nearby or Dusty dropping a stinky ball beside my head.  Apparently on the day in question, our containment routine was missed.  Hubby had neglected to shut the dogs in with me; I guess because he was home and puttering around in the basement and garage.  

I blinked sleepily as OJ barked a happy bark next to my face, wagging his tail furiously, and then he leapt off the bed and tore off full speed down the hall.  I tried to wake up, but didn’t rise.  OJ came tearing back up the hall, leapt onto the bed with a long, gazelle-like stride, his front feet landing firmly on my belly.  As I struggled to regain my breath, OJ stood next to me, tail creating an impressive breeze, while he panted like he was laughing at me.  I sat up.  He barked again and raced off down the hall again.  Before I had my feet on the floor he had roared back up the hall and was beside me on the bed panting again.  OJ is not a morning creature either.  He is generally the last body out of the bed everyday.

“Do you have to go out, OJ?”  

“WOOF!” he declared and raced off again.  

“All right, all right.  I’m coming,”  I muttered as I stumbled down the hall and let him into the back yard.  He tore out the door and raced several circuits of the yard.  I stood at the kitchen window watching.  OJ is not a very energetic dog.  This was very odd behaviour.  He stopped at his favourite tree and lifted his leg.  He promptly fell over.  It took him a couple of tries to get his tri-pod balance and get the job done.  This was weird.  

I met him at the door to let him in.  He raced into the living room, leapt up onto the couch, and promptly fell off.  This was alarming.  I went to the couch and he jumped up beside me.  I felt into his arm pit* for his pulse.  His heart was racing.  I felt his feet.  They were really hot, almost sweaty feeling. I pushed a finger onto his gum.  It stayed white longer than it should. **  What on Earth was going on?  I ordered him to a pillow to lay down.  He obeyed, then stood again panting.  I ordered him down again.  He obeyed, then stood again.  He couldn’t contain his energy.  

I went into the kitchen and started making myself some pancakes while I thought about what to do.  OJ followed me.  He stumbled as he walked. His eyes were unnaturally bright.  

I opened my pantry door to get some flour and the mystery was solved.  

Pulled through the wires of one of the pantry drawers was the wrapping from a chocolate bar. A large chocolate bar.  I turned to OJ in horror.  “OH NO!”  He looked down at the floor, giving his tail a weak, decidedly guilty wag.   

Crap.  Crap. Crap.  This was bad.   

This was very, very bad.   

Science lesson:  

Dogs cannot eat chocolate.  It’s not so much the caffeine as it is a related chemical called theobromine found in the cacao bean that is seriously toxic to their system.   Theobromine levels increase the darker the chocolate.  White chocolate has hardly any.  Milk chocolate has some.  Bakers chocolate has tons.  According to the toxic level of 100 mg of theobromine per one kilo of canine body weight works out like this:  

1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker’s chocolate.  

OJ had consumed almost all of a huge bar, about 10 ounces of 80% cacao specialty chocolate (i.e. Bakers).  He weighs 65 lbs.  He was well over the toxic threshold of about 7.3 ounces for his body weight.  He was looking death in the eye.  

We phoned the vet to tell them we were coming.  We were in the examining room 10 minutes later.  As usual, OJ behaved like a model citizen in the vet office.  He believes strongly in his role as standard poodle ambassador, even when at death’s door.  He allowed the vet to poke and prod without complaint, even when his tail was lifted and the thermometer was inserted.  He gave me a rather unimpressed look while the vet talked to him and tried to distract him from indignity by patting at the other end, but OJ bore it all.  His temperature had come down; I could feel it in his paws as well.  The vet took his pulse, and his heart rate was just a bit above normal.  His blood pressure was almost back to normal.  The verdict was that he had already passed through the danger zone, and was in recovery.   

Once a dog has reached the stumbling stage, the brain is suffering from the toxicity.  After that stage come seizures, and then heart or respiratory failure.  OJ had ingested enough theobromine that he should have died.  I was sent home and told to bring him back if he developed seizures, but the vet was pretty sure he was going to be fine.  The good news for us was that although theobromine takes several days to clear out of the system, it doesn’t leave lingering effects, such that a few chocolate chips at a later date would tip the scales and kill him.  He gets to start from zero again.  Considering OJ’s incorrigibility, this is a very good thing.  

Ever notice how OJ is sleeping in all his photos? He's really just faking, while he plans his next stealth mission of death.

We had no idea when OJ got into the chocolate.  It could have been while I was sleeping on the couch or when he was left out after starting his day.  It takes a few hours for the effects to show. If we had caught it early enough, he could have been given charcoal to absorb it or had vomiting induced to get the theobromine out of his system before he was poisoned.  Because we figured it out only after we observed the neurological symptoms, it was too late to do anything except treat him with anti-convulsants if he developed seizures, which luckily, he didn’t.  

 Needless to say, I no longer store my chocolate in the pantry.

* find your dog’s pulse using the femoral artery in the ‘arm pit’ of a back leg, palm facing the leg.

** you can check for blood pressure by pushing the gums.  Do it when the dog is healthy to see how quickly the spot goes from white to normal again.  (about a second).  If it takes 2 or 3 seconds, the blood pressure has dropped.


bad talents (Part 2) July 13, 2010

The continued misadventures of Kimelle’s Optimum Jive aka OJ the standard poodle.

As I was saying in the last entry, skillful counter surfing requires stealth, balance and  ingenuity.  OJ’s ability to balance objects is particularly impressive, especially when one considers that he has to do it without opposable thumbs.  He’s not even a particularly huge standard, either, reaching only 25 inches at the withers, so he can’t use height to much advantage. Yet, it is not uncommon that I should wander down the hallway and discover a now clean frying pan nestled artistically in the centre of a dog pillow.  I’ve never caught him at it, so I’m not sure how exactly he manages to remove the pan from the stove and get it into the living room without dropping it on the floor.  Talented dog, indeed.

The best example of OJ’s remarkable balancing skill came on a day that I’d made myself tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  I made up the can of soup (artfully seasoned with garlic, oregano, basil, and parmesan) ate my lunch and then wandered off to do some chore.  I left half the soup in the pot on the stove for a second helping later.


Tomato soup.


Did I mention my living room couch is white?


I went into the kitchen for another bowl of soup.  I went to the stove and looked around blankly. The pot was missing.  I was the only human at home.  I went hunting.  I came around the corner saw something  suspicious twinkling in light.  I stepped closer in amazement.  You’re imagining my couch looked like a scene of carnage from a horror movie, aren’t you? You’re imagining it appeared as if a murder had been committed at the stove and the hapless victim was dragged, thrashing in agony, splattering red all the way to the couch where he’d been finished off in some gruesome throat ripping way, right?   Yeah.  So was I.

Well, we were both wrong.  All that greeted me in the living room  was a spotlessly clean soup pot glistening in the middle of my still pristine white fabric couch.  There was not a drop of tomato soup to be seen anywhere.  Not in the kitchen.  Not in the hall.  Not in the living room.  How on earth did he manage it?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Like I keep telling you.  He’s a talented boy.


Really, I just need to figure out how to train this dog to return the scrubbed pots and pans into the sink.




PS.  OJ wishes you to know that  he posed today for the accompanying photo under duress, simply for illustrative purposes.  He asserts that he has absolutely no knowledge of any empty tomato soup pots alledgedly found on the living room couch .

OJ likes tomato soup, but his favourite is butternut squash, as you’ll see here.


bad talents (Part1) July 12, 2010

Ever since I started a blog, people have been asking if I was going to tell stories about OJ.  So far I’ve managed to avoid it, but I was asked again yesterday, so I guess it’s time.  Ladies and Gentlemen of the internet, I would like to introduce you to  Kimelle’s Optimum Jive, my very talented standard poodle.

Now before I tell you the stories, promise me that you won’t lecture me on what a bad poodle parent I am, okay?  I know that if I was a responsible dog trainer, OJ would never do any of these things.  But he came to us as a two year old, already well set in his ways, and because he’s a brilliant, charming, manipulative poodle, we have been unable to break his bad habits over the last eight years.  We have a grudging admiration for him, to be honest.  This may not be a talent we wish he possessed, but we have to be impressed at how very skilled he is.

In the canine intelligence studies, only one breed is smarter than the poodle.  It’s the border collie.  If you know border collies, you know that they are intense, dedicated to their task and motivated to succeed.  They affix their famous stare at sheep, children, or cattle and they follow whistles, hand signals or calls without deviating from their orders.  They are amazing to watch on an agility course as they obey faultlessly and repeatedly.  This is not the way poodles operate.  Poodles will learn every task they are given in moments, but then they take it upon themselves to figure out another way, and good luck trying to get them to do it your boring way!  If you do manage to convince them to do the task your way more than a couple times, watch out.  They will look for a new and more interesting way to do it before long, when it is most inconvenient for you.  They are inclined to show you that there is always another, better, more entertaining way to do something.  They are adept at figuring out their own agendas, and doing whatever they need to do to achieve their own goals.

OJ’s goal is to fill his belly.  (He has tried to convince us that his goal is to keep our kitchen clean, but we are not fooled).  His talent is counter-surfing.  This talent requires stealth, balance, and ingenuity.  OJ excels at each element.  As a demonstration of his stealth, I offer this: around my house it is unwise to leave coffee, hot chocolate or chocolate milk on a coffee table.  While you are distracted, talking to someone beside you on the couch, for example, OJ will casually walk by, tilt ever so slightly, and take a slurp out of your cup.  He doesn’t care if the coffee is black or double double, however, he prefers cafe mocha, and he adores hot chocolate.   If you are so foolish as to walk into the kitchen and leave your  full cup completely unattended, you are likely to return to find a circle of cocoa spray on the table and an empty cup.   If your cup was less than half full, you will just find an empty cup, and a confused contemplation about whether you really did finish it or not.  OJ will be lying innocently on the couch, as if he never left it.  If you wish to avoid sharing your beverage when visiting at my house, I suggest you have tea.  OJ does not seem to care for tea.

As I typed this blog, OJ was yelled at to get off the counters 5 times.  I intercepted him once with an ice cream lid he’d just taken out of the sink, and once sneaking down the hallway with a spatula in his mouth.

Apparently he requires some attention, so I will continue with his adventures in another blog post.


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