Introducing Betty White

Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do. – Betty White


This is Betty White Hooker.



A sweet senior without teeth, she joined the Hooker Horde on Friday, August 15th, 2014.


Originally named “Daisy,” she was dropped off at the shelter in Spanish Fork with her three sisters. Her previous person sobbed when he left. With colon cancer, he could no longer care for his furry family.


The Adopt Me Society rushed to rescue the four Maltese and tried to adopt them out as a foursome. Then, they tried to send them out in pairs. Finally, the sisters went solo. But, Daisy was left.


For almost seven weeks, Daisy lived in the boarding facility. It was not how she was accustomed to living.


In addition to being toothless, she is deaf. Therefore, even before we met, I re-named her Betty White.


When we met, she danced and pranced. I scooped her up. Compared to the rest of the horde, she is tiny.


She snuggled into the soft bed and rode shotgun all the way home.


Like her namesake, Betty is an alpha. She walked right in, jumped up on the sofa, and settled on the back cushions.


To be continued . . .


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A Little Help from My Friends

With a Little Help from My Friends



Even though he is not a big Bible reader, over and over, my ex-husband said, “the truth will set you free” from the Book of John. Dwight told me, “When you write, tell the truth – even if it makes you look bad.


Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”


Today, Labor Day marks the end of summer.


Here’s the truth inside my lie.


In early spring, I began my battle with what Winston Churchill called, “the black dog.” Depression followed me wherever I went. With each panic attack, my heart beat faster.


The months of April and May are a bit of blur for me. One of my students recently told me, “I thought you were really sick at the end of the school year.”


I was.


But, what I had was not visible on the outside. I did not break a bone. I did not have skin cancer. Other than a dramatic and frightening weight loss that brought comments like, “You look like Skeletor” and “There is such a thing as too thin,” what I had was not visible.


For my entire adult life, I was the party planner, the instigator and the fun friend.


Shock and loss triggered old wounds propelling me into what doctors diagnose as “situational depression.”


Situational depression lives inside the body. While there were noticeable effects on my body and in my eyes, depression is not a disease some deem worthy of compassion. One friend told me, “You weren’t there for me, and so I can’t be there for you.” Another texted, “You’re making it very difficult to be your friend.”


I understand. I changed. I was not the person they knew. I was not what they expected. I was no longer the party planner and fun friend. I disappointed them.


But, there were others. True friends: friends who sacrificed Saturday nights to sit on the sofa with me; a neighbor who said to his wife, “if you don’t see Julie out with the dogs, we need to check on her;” another friend who walked across the street and texted to make sure I was okay.


I am fortunate to have honest and open friends who shared their experience with anxiety and depression. They allowed me to talk. They listened.  

Others knew this was a part of my journey and watched from the wings – waiting.


During the summer, there were days when I could not leave the house. At this time, I was grateful for the support from my Facebook friends that I met through my Bernese Mountain Dog, Faith.

Faith Barrel


While social media can isolate and make one feel even more left out, in this case, friends I have never met sent me meaningful messages, notes and gifts to inspire and uplift me.


For me, the depression and anxiety took away my appetite.


However, when the panic attacks hit, I could not pull myself off the sofa. I could not find the energy to get up and eat a banana or make breakfast. Therefore, I lost more weight.


Through talk therapy, I learned that in my core I believed I was not enough. My dad had Scarlet Fever as a child. It killed almost one-quarter of his heart. When I was six, our family planned a trip to San Francisco. As we packed and prepared to leave on a Saturday morning, my dad mowed the lawn. While mowing, he had a massive heart attack. He made it to the back door. My mom got him onto my bed and told me to put on my shoes.


As a family, we tried to do “enough.” We tried to be quiet enough for my dad to rest. We changed our diet enough to keep him healthy. We stopped taking piano lessons because it stressed my dad out when we did not practice.


But, to be clear, whether ignorance or arrogance propelled me to be enough to change the eventual outcome, we lived in a home that was filled with love. Even though my father had half a heart after 1977, he provided for our family. I wanted for nothing, including love.


One year, at a daddy-daughter Halloween party, there was a game where dads pulled their girls on a broom across the gymnasium floor. Because my dad had just had open-heart surgery in 1983, another father offered to pull me. My dad said, “no.” He pulled me.


Inside me, however, I felt like I could not be enough. Therefore, when I suffered another loss, it triggered the depression I did not let in at six or eighteen, when my dad died.


The therapist insisted I see a doctor. Wellbutrin did not work, but Zoloft did.


With medication, I felt better.


My furry family reacted to the depression. Faith became anxious. Booker would not leave my side. Gus watched me. They were patient.


Still, even with counseling and medication, I could not gain weight. My therapist told me, “If you do not start eating, we will have to put you in the hospital.”

Again, the vicious cycle continued . . . the medication repressed my appetite.


I started seeing a nutritionist. We identified ways in which I could simply, yet efficiently, eat. Without fuel, the body, the brain and the heart cannot heal. There was no way for me to return to Julie without nourishing myself with food and friends.

The combination of medication, time, true friends, and talk therapy helped.


Finally, I decided to move forward.


Here I am.


I am okay.


In fact, I’m better than okay. I am more compassionate. I am more understanding. I am a better friend. I am a better teacher. I am a better person.


However, there is still a part of me that is embarrassed. There is a part of me that thinks I should have been able to manage my feelings, my loss, and my nutrition by myself.


Fortunately, the embarrassment means less than making sure others do not experience this in isolation.


Like the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”





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Magical Maggie Mae


Magical Maggie Mae (A Rescue Story)


One afternoon, when Jeff was in the second grade, a classmate’s mother brought in a litter of kittens for Show and Tell. Jeff fell in love. After begging, pleading, and making promises to his parents, Blackie came home.


Once Jeff moved out and into his own home in St. George, he adopted Abby. Abby crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 1998.


Jeff was cat-less until 2012. A close friend told him about his Uncle Dick’s cat, Maggie Mae. Maggie Mae’s human was in his late seventies and had to go to a care center to help with his progressing Alzheimer’s disease.


Dick’s long-time partner cared for Maggie Mae. She procrastinated on selling the house.

But, sweet longhaired Maggie Mae was living in the house all alone. People came and went. They moved things. It was a very anxious time for Maggie Mae. She started to hide.


Realizing Maggie Mae would not have a place to live once the house was sold, Jeff offered Maggie Mae a home.


Maggie Mae arrived in her cat carrier at Jeff’s house. Unsure about her new home and traumatized by the previous three months, for two days, she hid in the carrier.


When Maggie Mae stepped out of her carrier, she rolled around and purred in the living room to mark her new territory. She loved the positive reinforcement and attention from Jeff.


Now, Maggie Mae meows at the door when she hears Jeff’s car in the driveway. She snuggles into bed and purrs. When Jeff is speaking on the phone, Maggie Mae talks, too.


“Maggie Mae is the most loving, sweet and appreciative cat I’ve ever known,” explained Jeff. There is something about how a rescued animal loves that is different. In addition to being unconditional and unwavering, a rescued animal loves with a heart full of gratitude.


While Jeff rescued Maggie Mae, she rescued him right back with her warm heart, purring, and gracious company.

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Mamas and Moose — Moose on the Loose

Mamas and Moose


Each fall, the moose are on the loose in my neighborhood. Just like the mama moose has a routine of walking the neighborhood and feeding her babies from the trees, my mama and I have a routine. We speak each morning, in the afternoon and at night, before we go to bed.


Today, I was a bit late calling my mom. I call her because she still has a landline and it costs extra to phone long distance.



When I rang, it was 11:30 and I was leaving to work in the boutique.


I apologized for calling so late in the morning and explained the moose on the loose had distracted me in my neighborhood.



Earlier, Juliann texted to tell our group of dog walking friends about the moose on Lincoln Lane. I was cautious when I walked Faith, Booker and Gus. Rounding the corner onto Bridge Parkway, we saw the baby moose and fled to safety behind Vanessa’s fence.


Knowing the mama had gone down the street toward my house, we moved with stealth.


Safely in our home, the moose arrived next door. The house does not have a fence across the front, so they simple meandered in for breakfast.

I ran from my window, to my deck, to my side patio trying to take pictures.


After my mom heard the story, she gasped, “Don’t you need to call animal control?”


“Nope. We don’t do that. We’re in their backyard. I’ll just be careful.”


Moms and moose.


Like the mama moose, my mom worries about me.


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Three Important Things in a Home with Dogs

Three Important Things in a Home with Dogs


As far as I’m concerned, a house is not a home without a dog, or dogs.


But, when people without dogs visit, there are three things that are important to note.



A few weeks ago, my friend Tracey came to visit. From the guest powder room, I heard, “Julietta, we have a problem.”photo 1


Without waiting to hear what the problem was, I called, “Behind you. The toilet paper is in a basket on the tank behind you.”


“Got it,” she called.


With dogs, toilet paper does not stay on the roll. Instead, it turns into confetti because they want to surprise me when I come home.



A few years ago, a portly poodle with Cushing’s Syndrome arrived in our home. Unable to jump up onto the bed, I hoisted his 17-1/2 pound body up every night until a friend built a ramp. With the ramp, Mr. Sunny Sunny Bun Bun could waddle right up to his spot on the bed.

photo 2


Now, because of spondolosis and a bridging in his back, Booker T. Washington uses the ramp to go to bed.


It is, to say the least, somewhat surprising for someone touring the house, cleaning the house, or sleeping over to see the ramp.



With enough marrowbones to build a small dinosaur and mounds of stuffed squeaky toys, including a Chewy Vuitton bag, it is typical to trip over toys. On more than one occasion, I have almost fallen down the stairs after stepping on a bone.

photo 3


Prior to visitors, I roam from room to room scooping up toys and putting them in the toy baskets.


I would not change a single thing in my home . . . the scratches on the hardwood floor, the fur on the sofa, and the bowls of water all over the house – nothing. It is a home for and with dogs.

Posted in Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, For the Love of Dogs, home, life lessons, love, magic, Senior Animals, Special Needs | Tagged | Leave a comment

Designer Clothes and Careers — On Your Own



A few days a week, I work at an eclectic boutique on Main Street in Park City. Housed in an historic hotel, above the Thai restaurant and next to a fur store, the shop carries a variety of world designers from Brazil to Salt Lake City. Each designer has a story, just like every customer.


Currently, the window features a hand-painted dress and skirt along with lovely little cocktail dresses.


With the summer tourist season, people walk up and down Main Street all day long. Last week, a vibrant, talkative, authentic and articulate young woman came into the shop.


“Is this your first time in the boutique?” I asked.


With some shyness, she said, “Yes. The dresses are just so beautiful I wanted to see them.”


Tentatively, she reached to look at the dresses, scarves and jewelry.  I explained that the clothing ranged from a designer from Mexico who priced everything under $100 to much more.


“Are you visiting Park City?” I questioned.


“Yes. I’m from Provo.” (For readers outside the state of Utah, Provo is the home of Brigham Young University and is predominantly LDS.)


“Where do you go to school?”


“Provo High,” she replied. “Everything in here is so beautiful. I can’t get over it.”


As a schoolteacher, I have some idea about the age of children and asked, “Are you a sophomore or a junior?”


“I will be a junior next year. I just got my driver’s license. I love it here in Park City.”


She chatted amiably and comfortably.


With a longing look she said, “Maybe someday I’ll marry someone with a successful career and I’ll be able to wear designer clothes.”


Hiding my upset over the idea that she needed a man to wear designer clothes, I suggested, “Or, you can have a successful career and do it on your own.”


When should one wear designer clothes? Whenever one feels like it!


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Patience with Puppy Mill Pups

Patience with Puppy Mill Pups

I am not patient. It is not a quality I developed. In fact, I stand by Carrie Fisher’s statement that, “the only problem with instant gratification, is that it takes too damn long.”

Last month marked Gus’ four-year adopt-paw-versary into the Hooker Horde. His first three years were spent in a puppy mill.

At seven, he is finally a puppy!

Puppy Run

The curly blonde woman at the shelter told me, “He may never be a real dog.”

Once he came home in 2010, he spent the first few days cowering in the back of his crate.   When I removed the crate, he found security sitting on the stairway landing. From there, he knows what is happening both upstairs and down. Plus, with the railing, it probably feels a bit like a crate.

Gus' First Day

After six months, I heard scratching on the hardwood floor. I peered over the railing to see Gus secure in his seat on the sofa.

The changes happened so slowly, that they seemed unremarkable at the time. But, now, he barks with happiness when we head out for a walk, he chases the ball with his brother, when I say, “go to bed,” he hops up on the bed and cuddles into the pillow.



He still clings to the safety of his big Berner sister, Faith, when unknown dogs or people approach.


Often, he’ll sit opposite me and look at me. The pet psychic said he told her, “I love Julie and I’m better than any boyfriend she will ever have.”

Gus runs. He plays with toys.

While he does not like to be held, he tolerates it.


With patience, spirits and hearts heal.

Posted in Adoption, Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, For the Love of Dogs, Fostering, Kindness, life lessons, memoir, puppy mill, Special Needs | Leave a comment