A Love Story

My dog Susie says

Who's the "lucky" one in this story?"

With the trying and terrible events of the past few months, I thought an uplifting story about a woman and her beloved dog would bring a smile to your face. This is a positive but absolutely true story!

Lucky Dog....
Anyone with pets will really like this loving"tail", but you should enjoy it even if you don't have any. After reading this, you may even decide that you need to get a pet in the near future!

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.' Lucky was a real character as dogs can sometimes be. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit, they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, the guests would forget and their things would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

Eventually, it happened that Mary found out she had developed breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease ...... in fact, she was absolutely sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear weighting down her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought suddenly struck her .... what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through.

If I die, Lucky will feel abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him! That thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and she was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just constantly drooped, whined and acted totally miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even walk up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and then left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but a deep sleep soon overcame her and she completely passed out.

When Mary first awoke from her slumber, she felt something was medically wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and very hot. But her panic soon gave way to uninhibited laughter when Mary quickly realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!

While she had slept, her sorrowful dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all of his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure of all.

Remember: live every day to the fullest. Each minute on Earth is a blessing from God. And never forget .... the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Catch you later; and a big thanks to Mary and Lucky!!!

Susie and Sandy,

P.S. When Ulysses returned to Greece after a 20 year absence during "The Odyssey," his faithful dog Argos recognized him immediately before anyone else did.... including his wife and children.

For more barks from Susie go to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

Information on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com


All the President's Men...

My dog Susie says

Who are these guys?

Since we already know a lot about President Obama, I decided to find out about Mitt Romney.
Personal Information:

His full Name is: Willard Mitt Romney (Do you think anyone calls him Willie?)
He was Born: March 12, 1947 and is 65 years old. (Wow, he's way older than my Daddy)

His Father: George W. Romney, former Governor of the State of Michigan & President of American Motors. They made Jeep & Rambler during the 50's & 60's. (
What's a Rambler?)

He was raised in Bloomfield Hills , Michigan (
Michigan is really nice for about 6 months out of the year)

He is Married to Ann Romney since 1969; they have five children and a bunch of grandchildren.

B.A. from Brigham Young University ,

J.D. and M.B.A. from Harvard University
(Now this is just crazy smart)

Mormon - The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Why were they late?)

Working Background:

After high school, he spent 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary.
(But I doubt it was the Riviera!)

After going to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, he passed the Michigan bar exam, but never worked as an attorney.
(He's smarter than I thought)

In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital a private equity investment firm, one of the largest such firms in the United States .
(Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns sure wished that Romney ran them instead.)

In 1994, he ran for Senator of Massachusetts and lost to Ted Kennedy.
(Who didn't?)

He was President and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
(Park City has the best snow on Earth)

In 2002, he was elected Governor of the State of Massachusetts where he eliminated a 1.5 billion deficit.

Some Interesting Facts about Romney:

Bain Capital, starting with one small office supply store in Massachusetts , turned it into Staples; now with 2,000 stores employing over 90,000 people. ( I wonder if Mitt could do the same for an organic dog food company I'd like to start?)

Bain Capital also worked to perform the same kind of business successes again and again, with companies like
Domino's, Sealy, The Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music, Home Depot, and hundreds of others. (So, after eating a Cheeseburger for lunch and a Pizza delivered for dinner, you can listen to music while lying on a comfortable bed, watching TV for a weather update, thanks to Mitt.)

He was an unpaid volunteer campaign worker for his dad's gubernatorial campaign 1 year.

He was an unpaid intern in his dad's governor's office for eight years.

He was an unpaid bishop and president of his church for ten years.
(Where does the collection plate go?)

He was an unpaid President of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for three years.
( Hope he got free skiing)

He took no salary and was the unpaid Governor of Massachusetts for four years. (
But he got all the free lobster and clam chowder he wanted)

He gave his entire inheritance from his father to charity.
(So he started with no money?)

Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest self-made men in our country, but has given more back to its citizens in terms of money, service and time than most men.
(See list of wealthiest Presidents below)

And in 2011 Mitt Romney gave over $4 million to charity, almost 19% of his income
. Over his lifetime, it's been rumored that he's given over $250 million to various charities.

To me, Mitt Romney seems trustworthy and qualified to run for President of the United States.

Because of the recent shooting tragedy in Colorado recently, all the "Presidential " negative advertising was pulled and we all got a few days of no attack ads: Thank Goodness!

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy,

P.S. My big Mommy and Daddy always vote as independents. I don't really know who they'll vote for this time around. However, from what I've heard, both Mitt Romney (dog on top of car) and President Obama (eats dogs for dinner) have a way to go to before this Border Collie is convinced who is better!

Also, I researched what some of the past Presidents were worth in today's dollars:

  1. Bill Clinton $100 million
  2. George W. Bush $ 20 million
  3. Lyndon Johnson $100 million
  4. James Madison $101 million
  5. Andrew Jackson $120 million
  6. Franklin D. Roosevelt $ 90 million
  7. Thomas Jefferson $212 million
  8. Teddy Roosevelt $125 million
  9. John F. Kennedy $400 million

And the most interesting fact is that the wealthiest and poorest of our past Presidents are considered our very best:

George Washington was worth $525 million and Abraham Lincoln was worth less than $250,000. Who knew?


One Way to Stop War?

My dog Susie says

13 Hundred Years of Sport?

All the current fuss about America's "Chinese" uniforms for the upcoming Olympics in London, got me thinking about when, where and what the Olympics are really all about. Did you know that they first started in 776 BC and ran for almost 1200 years before being discontinued? The original games were held in Olympia, Greece during this entire period. The contestants competed in 20 events including track, wrestling, boxing and chariot racing. And a cool fact was that the first Olympic Champion was a cook but he didn't win for cooking.

One of the most interesting facts about these "Ancient Olympic Games" is that during the two weeks of competition all wars and feuds between cities and nations were discontinued. The winners were so revered that poems were written and statues built to immortalize them. Is this where and when the idolization of modern athletes of today began? Anyway, the Olympic games were discontinued around 400 AD because Rome had supplanted Greece as the premier power nation on Earth. The Greeks really didn't like Rome or Italians in general, so the games were placed in hibernation for the next 1500 years.

In 1859 the Olympic Games were restored in Greece because of the individual generosity of a wealthy Romanian-Greek philanthropist. In 1896 in Athens, the games brought together 14 nations with 241 athletes competing in 43 events. The next two Olympics were held in Paris (1900) and St. Louis, Missouri (1904). Bet you didn't know America had its first Olympic Games back then. And, more importantly, women were allowed to compete for the first time, before they even won the right to vote. Now, the London Games are expecting over 10,000 competitors from 204 nations to compete in more than 90 different events. That's a bunch of uniforms!

Most humans don't realize that for 20 years or longer there have been "Doggie Olympics" held in May, September and October in numerous states including Indiana, North Carolina and Colorado. Awards are bestowed for twenty different events for "Best-Tricks, High Jump, Limbo, Musical-Sit and Kisses" I know I could win for the limbo because I can crawl lower than any dog I know. And the gold medal will definitely be mine for Kissing cause nobody kisses better or more often than me! Two major reasons I can see for watching dogs over human competitors are: dogs are true amateurs that aren't paid any money, and they also don't need any fancy uniforms from China.

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Since the first Olympic Games were contested exclusively by male athletes who were completely naked, what's the big deal about the manufactured uniforms they now wear today? Maybe we should go back to the original Olympic "uniforms" not created by any country, individual or company. And since women are now allowed to compete, think of the huge ratings!

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For more information on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com


Has America gone to the dogs?

My dog Susie says

"The Sky is Falling"

Chicken Little is famed for proclaiming, after being hit on the head with an acorn, that the sky was falling. Her friends, hen, duck, and goose, helped sound the alarm to all the animals when they heard the news. Mr. Fox, however, didn't really believe it. Instead he used their fears to lure them to his inviting safe den where he enjoyed a great feast of fowl. There's a lesson to be learned here I reckon.

My Big Mommy and Daddy have been watching the news and there always seems to be somebody on TV telling us that the sky is falling. I know things are bad, but are they as bad as World War II? Or World War One? Or Viet Nam? The Cold War? How about the 10 year Depression in the 30's? I don't think so!

One advantage to being a dog instead of a human is that we sort of keep things in perspective. And since we don't live very long compared to people, we sort of keep things more positive. We don't sweat the small things and try to stay ahead of the pack by watching what's around us at all times. You never know when you might run into a bear or mountain lion in the woods. So, let's look at the facts and see if it's fixable.

This current economic downturn began in 2006 according to most experts. But it really began in 1996. That year mortgage companies started giving generous discounts on mortgages to congressmen and women. Over the years, these representatives stated that they only received the same benefits as anyone else and only a few special mortgages were actually utilized. Oh really? CNN reported today that House and Senate members received lower mortgage rates and no up-front fees. Can the average person get this? Also, over a ten year period from 1996-2006, about 17,000 of these special mortgages were given out to our elected officials and other selected individuals. That works out to over 1700 mortgages a year for a total of 100 Senate and 435 House members. So a bunch of their staff and worker-bees must have received these discounted mortgages as well. What about the Presidents office? Hummmm.

Then in 1999 another interesting thing happened. The repeal of a major finance law called Glass-Steagall which was implemented after the bank failures in 1933. The collapse of the banking system is regarded as the main reason for the Great Depression. This law had worked perfectly since then and kept the banks from risking their depositors' money. So why change a good thing? Was the fox getting into the hen house?

Congress smelled a golden opportunity to use the banks to not only loan money directly to homeowners, but to allow banks to "securitize" these loans into bundles that the banks could sell and own for themselves. This meant that an unlimited amount of money was now available to purchase homes by virtually anyone. Next, Congress decided to dramatically reduce the qualifications and down-payment requirements to purchase a home. Through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two largest mortgage companies in America, pressure was brought again by "well-meaning" Congresspeople to make it easy to buy as many homes as you wished. Everyone, including undocumented people, jumped on the bandwagon. How could we lose?

The Stock Market went up to its highest level and peaked in 2007. Much of it was the result of an exploding real estate market. Coincidentally, it was recently acknowledged that all Congresspeople can do something that the average person can't. In fact, if you do this, you might go straight to jail for a long time.

Unbelievably, these same Congressmen and women can trade on "inside information" for their own stock accounts. In other words, when they decide to do something that might affect an individual company or industry, they can buy stock way before the average citizen knows anything. So let's summarize:

Starting in 1996, our elected officials could buy a home on special terms. Next, in 1999 a powerful but simple law, Glass-Steagall, which many believe would have prevented our current "Great Recession" was repealed. Wall Street was encouraged to make available trillions of new credit available via the bundling of these "easy" mortgages. The result was a explosion in home values and stock prices. I wonder how many elected officials became millionaires during this time as a result of their actions. This period in history reminds me of a children's game where you run around chairs until there aren't enough to sit down and everyone loses but one. Are we the losers and Washington officials the "one"? Maybe Chicken Little was right!

Eventually, the whole financial domino game imploded. My Daddy frequently follows a premise in all his business dealings. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Where would we all be, if Washington had followed this?

Catch you later,

Sandy and Susie

P.S. I had a lot of help with this as my Big Mommy and Big Daddy are business people. However, being a Border Collie I'm smarter than you think. How smart? Well, I know which city has the most people making over $200,000 a year. Is it New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston? Nope. It's Washington D,C. There you go!

To read a few more "Susie says" barks: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

More info on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com


Heaven, Harvard & Dogs

My dog Susie says...

Life's little stresses

Last week I barked about taking your dog to work and its benefits. Well, how about other places that pets help humans: like school? In colleges from Atlanta to San Francisco counseling centers are using dogs to reduce stress for their students. Dorm rooms are now allowing dogs and cats to be brought from home to live with their owners. And if you don't have a pet, well you can just rent one.

Harvard and Yale Universities have "resident therapy centers" that keep dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed just like a book. In fact the doggie programs are so successful that students come from miles away just to spend time with the rental pooches! Emory University in Atlanta trains these companion dogs to specifically reduce stress for the humans. Maybe I can get a PhD in stress relief!

Research at campuses across America shows that positive interactions with pets decrease the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in humans, while increasing endorphins which makes you feel happy. Hey, maybe I can get an MD degree too!

Taking final exams is about as high a stress level as students experience except when a friend is hurt or dies unexpectedly, like in a car accident. Dogs seem to allow people to "let go" of their emotions in a much more uninhibited way than just grieving with other humans. Numerous students have stated, "These pet stress programs are so great, that if the the school doesn't keep doing them, I won't come back next year!"

Here's a little story I heard recently about stress and dogs....

A man named Sam and his dog Oscar were walking on a long and winding road. The traveler was enjoying the pleasant walk, when it suddenly occurred to him that he had recently died from all the unbelievable stress at work. He was a cop. He now remembered passing away and also, that his beloved dog had died years before him.

After a while, they came to a mountain top with a tall white stone marble wall across from the road. Standing before it, Sam saw a magnificent gate that looked like mother of pearl and a glittering street that looked like pure gold.
He and Oscar walked toward the gate and as they got closer they saw a man standing at a desk.

When they were close enough, Sam inquired, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"Why, this is Heaven, sir", the man answered.

"Wow! After my stressful life this is great! Would you happen to have some water? I'm really thirsty." Sam asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in and sit down. I'll have some cold ice water brought right up." The man gestured and soon the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" Sam asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we never accept pets. You'll have to leave him outside."

The traveler thought for a moment, then turned back toward the road and continued along the same way they had been walking before. After another long walk, he and Oscar came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a white haired man inside, leaning against a tall tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!", Sam called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure enough, there's a water pump over there. Come on in."

"How about my friend here?" The traveler gestured to the dog.

"Sure. There's a bowl right by the pump."

They went through the gate and saw an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl, took a long drink himself and then quickly gave some to Oscar. When they were both full, Sam and his dog walked back toward the man standing by the magnificent tree waiting for them.

"What do you call this place?" The traveler asked.

" Why...This is Heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's mighty confusing," Sam said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold streets and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"Nope. I can see how you might think so, but we're just thrilled they screen out all the folks who would leave their very best friends behind!"

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

Information on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com



What do Google, JFK and Europe have in common?

My dog Susie says

What could be better than taking your pet to work?

Sometimes humans get it right. They really scored points with me when they created a "Take your dog to Work Day." June 22nd is the designated month and day this year for animal parents to show their dogs to their co-workers and bosses. This great idea was first created by pet "walkers" in 1999. So make sure your pets are on their best behavior.

Since I'm currently in California for the summer, I decided to look around at companies located here on the West Coast. One of my faves, Google, has allowed dogs to come to work since 2002. They're always ahead of the curve aren't they? The Google people believe that having your dog with you at work relieves stress and makes the employees more comfortable, and thus more productive. The Discovery Channel people believe that having a dog at work allows you to take a break and pet your dog or go out for a short walk to relieve stress. They think of it as "Preventative Healthcare."

I read that courtrooms across the country are using dogs to calm victims testifying before their criminal perpetrators. The judge allows the person testifying to lean down and gently pet a dog lying nearby. It really helps in calming children who have been sexually abused by a family member to tell what really happened. One female dog was so popular in helping these victims, that she was nominated by her co-workers for "Court Employee of the Year."

So dogs help to calm and reduce stress for people in various occupations. Now which job has the most stress? How about President of the United States? Starting with the first president, George Washington kept his dogs with him while he was in office. Teddy Roosevelt took his dogs with him everywhere. Franklin Roosevelt was so close to his Scottish Terrier, Fala, that when he accidentally left him behind in the Aleutian Islands after a tour, he sent the Navy back to rescue him. Now that's service!

President Nixon had a Cocker Spaniel named Checkers who helped save his political career. His predecessor Lyndon Johnson got into trouble by picking up his beagles by their ears. Not smart! President Kennedy had an Irish Cocker Spaniel named Shannon and a Welsh Terrier named Pushinka. Pushinka, a gift from the Soviet Premier Khrushchev, was the offspring of the first dog launched into outer space. He made JFK laugh because he was always climbing up the ladder to his daughter's tree-house. I guess it was in his genes to try and get as high as possible.

Gerald Ford had a Golden Retriever, Liberty, who gave birth to nine puppies in the White House. Jimmy Carter had a rescue dog named Grits. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, who were neighbors of big mommy's in L.A., owned two dogs; Rex, a Cocker Spaniel, and Lucky, a "Bouvier Des Flanders Sheepdog." Wow what a long pedigree. I wonder if "Lucky" helped President Reagan survive the assassination attempt that almost killed him?

George H. W. Bush (I call him George the First), owned a Springer Spaniel named Millie. Millie was so popular that when her autobiography came out it sold more copies that President and Barbara Bush's autobiographies. Bill Clinton had a Chocolate Labrador named Buddy. I'm sure Buddy helped during those trying times when he was impeached. George W. Bush (George the Second) had the only dog (Spot an English Springer Spaniel) to actually live in the White House during two different administrations. Now President Obama owns a Portuguese Water Dog named "Bo." I wonder if Bo helps when the president gets into hot water from time to time?

The point I'm trying to make is that pets, especially dogs, have helped every president from Washington to Obama deal with stress and strain. Don't you think that every work place in America can use a "little help from your friends?"

Currently, more than 2.3 million dogs are taken to work on a regular basis. One in five businesses are now considered pet friendly. In fact , to keep ahead of competitors, more and more companies are welcoming workers' pets with open arms. My big Mommy, Sandy, who grew up in Europe, told me that the Euro nations have been allowing their dogs, cats and even birds, to go everywhere with them including restaurants for decades. Glad to see America is catching up.

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

P.S. In San Francisco, a high-tech company named Zynga offers doggie biscuits at the receptionist's desk and water fountains located close to the ground for the animals. They also have a "barking lot" nearby just for the four -legged companions to relax with other animals. In fact, the Founder is so dog happy, that he named the company and logo image for his beloved now-deceased American Bulldog....Zynga.

To read more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

Information on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com


The Case of Sherlock Holmes and the Danes?

My dog Susie says

Sherlock Holmes to the rescue

For all of you humans who watch all the crime shows on TV like CSI, this is a canine mystery of deplorable desecration. I call it the "Case of who left the Poo?" Believe it or not many human owners of dogs that live in communities like apartments are facing an indescribable assault on their senses. All because of dogs leaving dog poo and their owners not cleaning it up. It's become such an epidemic that a company located not too far from me in Knoxville, Tennessee, decided to solve it. How you say? By linking an individual dog's DNA to its dog doo doo.

The company, "Poo Prints," has clients in 28 states as well as numerous countries around the world. I never realized this was such a large problem because I live near forests and oceans where any old place will doo doo. However, I always make sure I cover it and don't leave my waste anywhere a human might step in it. I'm completely "Green" when it comes to the environment! So how exactly does this malodorous mystery get solved?

First, the apartment, condominium or homeowner association mandates that if you own a dog, you must submit to management a sample of waste or saliva to be analyzed by Poo Prints. Then if any doggie doo is discovered uncollected by an offending owner, it is sent on for DNA matching. When the culprit is identified the owner receives a fine of between $150 to $1,000 for the first offense. Most communities that utilize this high-tech detection system report that in about six weeks after implementation, the "Poo Pile Problem" is completely gone...forever! Isn't science wonderful?

And since I've been barking about Englishman Sherlock Holmes deductive abilities, I discovered a heartwarming loving example of dogs helping dogs in England.

A great Dane named Lily hardly seemed deterred by her total blindness. The question is how and why? While still a pup, her eyelashes somehow grew into her eyeballs, causing irreparable damage and a medical need to remove both eyes. But with the help of her devoted four legged pal Madison, another Great Dane, she has continued to enjoy her life. Both Danes were homeless and kept in an animal shelter until recently, when they were rescued by a caring couple. Both dogs exhibit a joi de vie that many humans would do well to emulate. Madison and Lily became very close, always enjoying the others company, going about their daily routines as a tight twosome. Vocal in play, affectionate at rest, they even curl up together when ready to go to sleep.

With her lack of sight, Lily's other senses sharpened. Although rarely apart, Lily can always sense when Madison is not nearby and uses a unique bark to search for her. At night the two sleep together in what can only be called a "spooning" position. Madison gently leads Lily around by her leash during the day to the amazement of onlookers.

Both Lily and Madison formed their bond while living together in one of the United Kingdom's eighteen "Dogs Trust Re-homing Centers," a network of rescue centers which care for around 16,000 stray and abandoned dogs every year. The story ends extremely happily for Lily and Madison, who now live with Anne and Len Williams, a loving family who fell in love with these dogs after reading their story in London's Daily Mail. Great parents for Great Danes!

Catch you later,
Susie & Sandy

P.S. Humans can learn a bunch by watching how totally disadvantaged animals help each other, whether they happen to be people or dogs!

To read more Susie says barks: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com/

Information on Sandy Steele; http://sandysteele.com/

A Triple Crown Winner?

My dog Susie says...

Horses and Dogs are like peas and carrots....

My big mommy and daddy like all kinds of animals especially dogs and horses. We visited a couple of racetracks here in Southern California where I met quite a few racehorses. Boy are they big and beautiful! Hollywood Park is a smaller racing track located near Los Angeles with a lot of history associated with it. The track was opened in 1938 and managed by Henry Warner of Warner Brothers fame. The park seats 10,000 and has dirt made of man-made soft cushion material. It sure made it harder for me when I needed to go potty because I would never soil a carpet or anything like that. I'm completely "housebroken."

Santa Anita is located in Arcadia, California, about 30 miles south of L.A. With its backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, it is considered by many as the most beautiful race track in the world. It opened in 1934 and immediately attracted movie stars like Cary Grant and Bing Crosby. Santa Anita introduced new things for horse racing including the use of starting gates and photo finishes for every race. Also, the very successful and famous "Seabiscuit" won his last race here in 1940. More than 85,000 people have attended The Santa Anita Derby on race day. While I was walking around the track, I noticed a huge gleaming brown horse standing erect on a pedestal. Running over to examine this beautiful horse, I discovered it was a lifelike bronze statue of Seabiscuit. And no...I didn't mark it!

The reason I'm barking about horses today is that 12 months ago Daddy decided on a hunch to bet some money on a horse that he felt could win the triple crown this year. He liked the horse's name which seemed the only reason for daddy placing his unlikely bet in Las Vegas. You see, he never bets on anything except stocks. Anyway, over the advice of mom "that he was acting silly," he called and placed his bet on the unlikely triple crown winner. If he won he would win a gazillion dollars or so. Anyway the name of the horse that daddy liked was, "I'll Have Another." I think it reminded him of drinking with his buddies, watching a football game or such, in a sports bar.

A few days ago before the Belmont Race, which was the third leg of the triple crown, mommy and daddy were having cocktails at the Polo Lounge with friends in Beverly Hills. Daddy was bragging about his unlikely bet and how it looked like a sure thing now because the best competition to "I'll Have Another" had dropped out of the race. I think daddy was already spending his winnings in his mind. Mommy also knew that Rodeo Drive was just a mile away!

A friend of Daddy's, Kevin Costner, came in and greeted the boisterous group who had been drinking in anticipated celebration. After telling Kevin how they had enjoyed his recent "Hatfields and McCoys" saga which received great ratings, he asked what the celebration was all about? Daddy explained his crazy bet that he had made a year earlier for the triple crown winner. Kevin looked at him and said, "Haven't you heard the news? They had to scratch 'I'll Have Another' because of damage to his leg or something. He's not going to run in the Belmont."

Dreams of a fabulous shopping spree for Big mommy quickly faded away. After a few more drinks the party broke up and they headed back to our hotel room. I greeted them with a wagging tail and smiling face , but mommy and daddy didn't notice. After hearing what happened and mommy saying, "Daddy was crying in his beer," I knew I had to take action. While they were relaxing on their bed together, I jumped up and started licking their faces over and over until they started laughing. Then we all hugged and decided to go over to Santa Monica Beach and watch a beautiful sunset. So you see, when horses fail you, there's always man's (and woman's) best friend ready to make things better!

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Here in California they have outlawed using cell phones, iPads and other electronic devices while driving in your car. I have a much easier way of stopping this with a simple rule. Just make humans drive like dogs do...with their heads sticking out of the window.

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com/

More information on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com/

Marilyn Monroe and the hidden treasure?

My dog Susie says

26 Miles to Catalina?

Well, this is my first trip on a boat that actually leaves the harbor. My big mommy told me that when they moved to California over twenty years ago, their first sailing experience was really funny. They were visiting friends in Newport Beach at "The Balboa Yacht Club." They met a couple of "free spirits" at the Club who invited mommy and daddy to go sailing with them on their 46 foot yacht. It was moored at John Wayne's home on the water a few miles away. So they decided to take a chance and go with these two strangers for a day of sailing and sunbathing. Thank goodness they had packed bathing suits in their car's trunk.

Mommy had never been sailing before, but Daddy had sailed a few times with his neighbor in Atlanta, Ted Turner. But that's another story for another day. Anyway, after arriving at the boat, their two hosts, who were in their early thirties, invited them to partake of wine and cheese. The two sailors were smoking something that obviously made them laugh a lot. After an hour or so of getting to know each other, while inhaling the second-hand smoke, mommy and daddy were in really good spirits. The "captain" finally said that it was time to leave to go to Catalina Island which would take a few hours. As they started the boat's engine to begin cruising out of the harbor, the captain and his friend who were completely stoned by now, started laughing uproariously and slapping each others' backs.

Daddy asked what was so funny and the captain said, "Geez, I forgot that we took the sails down last week to be cleaned and we forgot to pick them up. We'll just have to motor around the Newport harbor for a few hours and drink more wine!" Mommy and daddy thanked the captain and his mate for the unique "sailing" experience, but said it was time for them to return home to L.A. Thus ended mommy's first sailing trip. I hope this one is more fun especially with me on board for entertainment.

The next morning we arrived in Marina Del Rey harbor, and immediately left on a beautiful sailboat owned by an old friend of mommy's named Beryl, She also has a great pooch named "Buster," a Black Lab, living on the boat full time. Lucky dog! Also, the trip over to Catalina is only 22 miles not 26 like the song says. Other interesting facts discovered after we arrived is the island is about the same size as Manhattan: 22mile long by 8 miles wide. But only 4,000 people reside here instead of the 8 million living in New York City. Different races of people had settled on the island for over 9,000 years, including the native Indian tribe Turai, Russians, Chinese and pirates. I also noticed that there aren't many trees on Catalina. The reason for the lack of trees is pretty crazy, but when y'all understand that Catalina is legally geographically part of L.A.....well.....

It seems that hundreds of years ago the Chief of the Turai tribe on his deathbed told a white hunter named Samuel Prentiss about a hidden golden treasure located on the island. He said that it was buried under a tree. So, Mr. Prentiss, who had hunted every living animal on Catalina or it's surrounding waters, spent the next 30 years literally cutting down and digging up every tree on the island looking for the vast lost treasure. He never found anything. Maybe it was really just an Indian joke on the white man?

Buster and I thought about digging around a few trees to look for the gold, but decided to chase the big hairy cattle that we saw running all over the hills. Mommy called them Buffalo, and as we got closer, they were way too big for us to try and round up. Also on a much smaller critter scale, there are rattlesnakes roaming everywhere. Mommy learned that Catalina was acquired in 1919 by a chewing-gum magnate named William Wrigley from Chicago. Another treasure seeker, Marilyn Monroe, lived here years before she became a star. And Natalie Wood who was a star, mysteriously died here a few decades ago. Seems like a lot of history for such a tiny island.

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

P.S. Famous actor and heavy drinker Humphrey Bogart was a frequent sailor to Catalina Island. On his deathbed his last words were, "I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis!"

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More info on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com/



My dog Susie says

California Canines

As I've mentioned in previous barks, I've met quite a few dogs of celebrities during the time I've spent here. I was pleased to find out that while many are expensive high-brow breeds, many are rescue dogs like me. Even Uggie who won a special Oscar for his "Silent Movie" movie in 2011 was a rescue mutt. To me they're all "Stardogs."

One thing I learned is that while there are hundreds of different breeds of dogs living here in the Golden State, there are lots of different languages they respond to. Gee..English is hard enough for me without having to understand, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese or Cockney.

One of the first and definitely the biggest dogs I met, was George a Great Dane owned by Jim Carrey. Jim had dated a girlfriend of Big Mommy's years ago. He's really funny but George is so big he scares me a little. Mr. Carrey also made some funny movies like "Pet Detective" and "The Mask" which stared a really talented doggy. In Beverly Hills, I met Lucy a Boxer owned by Jodie Foster. She was really nice.

Some singer named Clay Aiken owns a Border Collie mix named Raleigh. Ashley Judd who's from the south like me, owns a couple of Cockapoo's named Shug and Buttermilk. We saw Pamela Anderson in Malibu and she had a Golden Retriever named Star. Charlize Theron, who's really talented and beautiful, owns numerous dogs: all mutts.

In Bel-Air where Mommy lived, a neighbor of theirs, Nancy Reagan owns a Sheepdog named Lucky. Great name for a wonderful President. Steve Martin has a beautiful Yellow Lab named Roger. Oprah Winfrey, who we saw in Santa Monica, has a couple of Cocker Spaniels named Solomon and Sophie. Oprah's original home isn't too far from mine there in the Georgia mountains and forests. Speaking of trees and such, I discovered that in downtown Los Angeles something wonderful was happening.

There's an organization called "TreePeople" who, for years, have been planting trees and shrubs all over L. A. They believe that by helping nature recreate small robust natural forests, they are helping the city to heal itself. This group has enabled downtown parks to be reborn making the urban environment safer, healthier, and more fun and enjoyable for humans...and dogs. The people behind this aren't celebrities but just ordinary people with extraordinary ideas. Good for them!

At one of the TreePeople supported parks, Coldwater Canyon Park, sitting on top of the Santa Monica Mountains, we met Clara Bo, a Pomeranian owned by Kate Hudson. My big Mommy has seen Goldie Hahn numerous times. They' both seem really sweet. We also met a French Bulldog named Coco Chanel, who was a famous French women who invented perfume or something. Sacre Bleu! Her owner is Reese Witherspoon, who is originally from nearby Tennessee. She is really perky and a wonderful person. So is Coco! The most interesting Stardog was Rufus a poodle owned by Leonardo DiCaprio, who daddy met at a party at the Playboy Mansion. It seems that Rufus liked the water so much at the grotto, which was an underground pool in a cave, that he decided to relieve himself there at every opportunity ONLY when the partying guests weren't looking. I wonder if anyone noticed? Maybe Rufus doesn't like movie stars and their antics so much either. Well, gotta go, because we're getting ready to sail over to Catalina Island.

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy Steele

P.S. On Sunday we were all walking by a local church in Westwood and saw a Minister talking to a group of young boys. The boys had circled around a stray dog and the Minister asked what they were doing. The boys said, "This dog is homeless, so we're having a competition to see who gets to take the dog home. Whoever tells the biggest lie wins! "

The Minister who was disappointed said, "Boys, it's very wrong to tell lies. When I was your age, I never told lies!"
The boys all looked at each other and said, "O.K. You win. The dog is yours!"

To read more "My dog Susie says" go to http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com
For more info on Sandy Steele go to: http://sandysteele.com


Living on the Left Coast

My dog Susie says
"Good Vibrations"

Ahh.. to be running along the ocean watching dolphins and whales jump high into the air. I feel like I'm watching a National Geographic show on TV. I love my green forests and lakes in the mountains of North Georgia, but the sand and surf here in L.A. is wonderful too. Especially if you're a dog!

My Big Mommy and Daddy have lived here for over 20 years and I wondered what they enjoyed the most about this area in Southern California. I heard Mommy once on the phone explaining what Los Angeles is all about. She said that when they first moved here, they learned that the city stretches from east to west. Most cities go south to north. Starting in downtown Los Angeles, you go west to Hollywood, then Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Santa Monica and finally ending at Marina Del Rey on the shore. The greater L.A. Area is really composed of small villages linked together. Thus, reason #1 for living here is that Los Angeles is really like living in much smaller unique villages, instead of just one large metropolitan area. That's kinda neat.

They've lived in Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Santa Monica leaving only Marina Del Rey as their final destination in the "Golden State." Getting back to why they love it here so much, these are my observations on what I've been able to ascertain. First: the weather is perfect with very little rainy days. Daddy said that when a friend of his moved from New York City to L. A. in the early eighties, he bought a convertible Mercedes and immediately put the top down. He didn't put it up for 18 months. He also said that when it rains it usually rains at night. So the weather is the #2 reason.

Number 3 reason for living here is the natural beauty found in the mountains and valleys and the magnificent beaches located all over the area. Once, in the winter, mommy and daddy were sun bathing on the beach and looked up at all the mountains which surround L.A. They were unbelievably covered with snow. I must admit that sitting on the Santa Monica beach watching surfers, dolphins, whales, seals and sometimes sharks all frolicking together seems totally unreal. Because I'm a Border Collie and a herding dog, I sure love jumping in the water and running back and forth chasing all these California critters.

The fourth and final main reason for mommy and daddy living here are the interesting people. Los Angels is the major destination for different types of humans from all over the world. Young and old, smart and not-so smart, pretty and homely looking, rich and poor are all welcomed here with open arms. Nobody cares what you do or think as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. There is an air of optimism here that mommy and daddy say they've never seen anywhere else in the world. And at the end of the day, everyone gets to enjoy a beautiful orange sunset over the Pacific Ocean...for free!

On my previous trips to the City of Angels, I met quite a few dogs of celebrities. Renee Zellweger has a beautiful Golden Retriever named Dylan and Drew Barrymore owns a rescue dog named Flossie. Years ago mommy and daddy looked at the Barrymore home which was for sale, that Drew had lived in, and almost bought it. Hey, I thought Drew was a guy's name. Anyway, I'll mention the other interesting dogs owned by other stars on my next "bark."

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Daddy told me a story about when he and mommy were recently married newlyweds:

Daddy came home early from work and Sandy, my mom, had been cooking all day fixing a big dinner. Mommy, a totally inexperienced cook, was crying and blubbered, "I worked so hard preparing this special meal, but our new doggie just ate it."

Daddy gently said while hugging and kissing her, "Don't worry honey. We'll get another new doggie right away!"

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com
Info on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com



Cavemen, Cavewomen and Cavedogs.

My dog Susie says

Did dogs actually domesticate humans??

My Big Mommy informed me that the history of dogs and humans living in harmony has been linked for tens of thousands of years. It seems that all dogs were evolved from wolves eons ago. As man evolved and got better at hunting and killing his food something incredible happened: wolves became more comfortable with cavemen and cavewomen, because wolves were cleaning up the leftover meat scraps discarded by the untidy human hunter-grunters. Wolves had already become a social pack society since the beginning of time. Thus began the robust relationship between humans and dogs.

According to my Big Mommy about 15,000 years ago...and that's 105 THOUSAND in dog years...humans started walking out of Africa and fanning out across the middle East towards Asia. Eventually they got pretty tired of wandering year after year just to forage and kill any food they could locate. So when these primitive people observed the wild wolf animals hanging around closer and closer after cleaning up the leftovers, they also noticed the wolves were actually protecting the campgrounds from dangerous animals like huge killer cats, giant bears, and the like.

When the homo sapiens eventually got tired of walking mile after mile, year after year, they decided to stay in one place. Along with their friendly wolves they adopted some gentler animals who could provide them with clothing, meat, and milk...namely goats. Wolves to the rescue again! They were really quick to learn how to keep them in a cluster by herding the stragglers and were even better at fighting off any mean prey animals trying to score a goat meal. As long as the humans were in one place to stay, they decided to plant food like grains and vegetables and grapes. By now my ancestors were sort of wolf/dogs and becoming a permanent part of the human family. They were eager to help out by hauling heavy bags of grain and assisting in hunting other animal game like deer and wild fowl. BONUS: our new doggie friends would also run, search and retrieve for the humans, what had just been hunted for that nights dinner. Kinda like an early caveman Domino's delivery system!

As thousands of years rolled by, humans spread all over the planet with completely different terrains and climates. More and more types of jobs were required...jobs only a DOG could readily handle which helped humans to grow into healthier, smarter people. Who kept the rodent population under control while humans continued their messy ways? Small dogs. Who pulled sleds of hides and supplies across the snowy, icy miles of Asia and North America? Big furry dogs. Who alerted humans when their precious horses and cattle were in danger from thieves or mountain lions? Big dogs. Who traveled with Roman soldiers and Vikings to conquer empires? Real big dogs with big powerful jaws.

I could brag on and on, but it's not my style and besides, you have the Internet any way so you can learn a lot more on your own. But the simple truth is that if ancient wolves hadn't taken a liking to the poor, suffering cave people and helped them on their way to cultivating food, spreading-out around the entire world, and building permanent camps, I'd probably be sleeping in some dark dingy cave on the cold ground alone and without Big Mommy right now. That would really suck!

But the last 15,000 years have been a marriage made in heaven because the only reward we dogs ever got or still want from you guys is a scratch behind the ears, a hug, and a little tummy rub on special days.

Catch you later,

Sandy & Susie

P.S. A young woman was recently sitting with her Border Collie, Buttermilk, in a movie theater in Hollywood.
The dog was loudly cheering for the hero, laughing hysterically, and in general having a wonderful time, when a movie usher approached."That's strange. Your dog is really enjoying this movie," the usher said."I know," the woman replied. "I can't figure it out either. Buttermilk really hated the book."
For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com
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A Bicoastal Border Collie

My dog Susie says

Leaving on a jet plane...

Our family, including moi of course, is getting ready to fly out west for an extended stay. I love the beaches of Southern California and all the cool dogs and some cats I meet out there. The only thing I hate about the trip is the flying. I'm too big for a seat and must be caged down in the "hold" of the big beast. It really sucks, but this year my Big Mommy Sandy is going to try something new. She's going to give me a natural pill with something called melatonin in it to make me sleep. I Googled melatonin and discovered that it's found in foods like turkey which makes you sleepy after eating it. Hey, why not just stuff me with turkey?

Being a Border Collie and one of the smartest breeds of dogs, if I do say so myself, allows me to try and figure out all sorts of things I hear and see. It's been proven that Border Collies understand at least 200 words, but Mommy thinks I understand at least 2,000 including cuss words. Boy, if I could only talk.

Arriving in L.A. It seems the pill worked. I don't remember anything except weird dreams about apes taking over the world in the future. I've been watching too much SciFi channel. Speaking of science, did you know that while we dogs hear really great, we don't see colors so well. In fact, we don't see red, orange or green hardly at all. Red looks like brown to us and green looks like yellow-gray. So why are most pet toys colored red, orange or green? Throw a red ball into a lush green grassy yard and it's hard for us to see it. We operate by smell. Also, we don't see as far as humans do. But we do recognize movement up to 3,000 feet. I'm sure glad squirrels are gray.

On our way to the beach, Mommy decides to drag Daddy and me to some kind of spa in Beverly Hills that offers therapies for pets. I didn't realize that I needed to go to a shrink, but she says this is a kind of day-spa for dogs. All-righty then. After filling out some forms a pretty lady shows my Big Mommy what is available for pets. First, is something called acupuncture which uses needles to sooth pain. That seems crazy to me, because my paws have met with sharp thing before. I'm going to pass on this!

This place also offers homeopathy medicines if you're sick. Well I'm not sick, at least not in my body, maybe my dog head. I think I'll skip this too. Next is something called aromatherapy using oils and scents to ward off fleas and sooth nerves. The only thing I'm nervous about is this place, so nyet to this crazy stuff. The last therapy available is hydrotherapy which is basically warm water in a pool with jets spraying you all over. Mommy now insists that I do this whether I'm crazy about it or not. I reluctantly agree to allow myself to become a wet dog and be totally cleaned and massaged all over with pressurized water. However, as soon as we get to the beach, what do you think I'm going to do in all of that warm sand? Can you spell, "buried in sand up to my long neck?" Now that's what I call really relaxing!

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

P.S. If you can be cheerful even though you may be in pain, eat basically the same food every day without complaining, conquer tension and anxiety without drugs, smile when you're blamed unjustly, never lie or cheat, then you are definitely the family dog.

To see more barks from Susie go to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For info on Sandy Steele : http://sandysteele.com