Dams of Bliss

When I watch new mama dogs with puppies, I’m struck by their instinctual tenderness while caring for their newborns.

Bliss, 9-weeks-old, taking her place in her family of hunting retrievers.

Bliss, 9-weeks-old, taking her place in her family of hunting retrievers.

We recently brought home our newest puppy addition. This past weekend, I got to thinking of when she has pups. She’ll have to wait until she passes important health clearances and has proven herself as a hunting dog and family companion, so it’ll be at least two years before she becomes a mom.

I personally know many of the “Mamas” on her dam’s side.

I think Bliss will do them proud. I hope you enjoy this gallery of some of the mama retrievers in her lineage. Just click an image to open a larger view.

Bliss Nicely Wrapped

The Nutcracker bliss present Christmas

Gazing in the gift shop at the nutcrackers and dancers following the performance of “The Nutcracker.”
© 2012 MaryALivingston
Photo reference provided by
Lightly Spiced Photography by A. Adams

The holiday season is upon us. Adults worldwide look for ways to gift and treat the children in their lives.

Last year, I witnessed a most precious Christmas gift. One of our granddaughters loves ballet. Since she could stand she has twirled. Don’t know from where this comes. No one in the family dances other than for casual fun. So, her Papa and Nana took her, her older sister and their mom to a ballet performance of “The Nutcracker.” Little brother was too young to attend and Daddy was deployed half a world away.

We, Grandma and Grandpa, arrived for our visit the night before the ballet. Papa let us know his plans ahead of time, so we also procured tickets for the event.

Our two young granddaughters, ages 4 & 7, were in lovely dresses and shiny shoes. Their hair hung in beautiful locks. They were clearly prepared to attend an elegant event.

Being of small stature, it was hard for the littlest to see over the heads in front of her. She climbed in my lap for a better view.

The curtains opened and when the first ballerina twirled on her toes, the little one in my lap quivered and proclaimed, “I can do that!”

There were a few looks and even a “Shhhhh.”

Doesn’t everyone know the ballet requires silence?

She paid the naysayers no heed, for they did not register through her eagerness. As the show progressed, “I can do that,” would sound every now and again interspersed with an, “I can SO do that.”

This child’s love of ballet was coming to life before our eyes. With every pas de chat and arabesque she became more engaged.

She will remember this forever. Nana, Papa, Mama, Grandpa and Grandma will as well.

During a season when many overindulge, what mattered most to these little girls was spending time with their family at an event they treasured. Papa and Nana hit a home run with this gift, I am thankful we were there to share in the joy.

Some believe the expanse of lavish and numerous presents thrusts upon the little ones is a direct measure of love.  Quite the opposite. I never for a moment doubted the love of my grandparents. Yet, over the years, I received not even one wrapped gift for a birthday or holiday from these two people who represented clear and abundant love. This was not because of culture or religious belief. They were poor. They barely had provisions for food and shelter. Sometimes not even that. Their gift everyday was love. The kind of love that reaches to your core.  The kind of love that garners respect and delivers clear discipline.  The kind of love that has the power to stay in a heart through times of joy and sorrow.

In this season, when it is all too easy to overindulge, take the time to build memories of love your children will treasure. We will all remember the ballet with Nana and Papa.


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Her Papa’s Eyes

Bella arrived for her visit on Friday. It is almost 3 months since her sire, Hawk, suddenly died.  Bella’s litter was born shortly thereafter. She is almost 10 weeks old.

When I saw the litter, she caught my attention, she has her papa’s soulful eyes.  The litter owner chose to keep her. I would have made the same choice.  There is something very special about a puppy. Something very healing. A puppy oozes bliss.

When I had a bad day of bone pain, Hawk would lay at my side. It was easier to breath through the ache. I often wondered if he would be big enough the help steady me as the bone disorder destroyed my ability to walk.

Earlier this year when my old girl died at 16½ (very old for a retriever), he spent the better part of two weeks staying by my side. Neither of us knew at that time that death would separate us so soon.

These passing weeks I have been haunted by dreams of his sound as he struggled for breath. In the palm of my hand I can still feel the cessation of his heartbeat. There was nothing we could do to save him. We could only help him pass when the struggle became suffering.

There was a moment, when his gaze held mine and it was clear he knew he was dying. He worried about me to the end.

Our pets are not like children. They are not people. They hold a different place in our hearts, their own place. Some people may not understand what I mean, that’s okay.

So, today, as I see the similarities to Hawk in his daughter, I can’t help but have that ache tug at my heart. I am not ready for another puppy. The time will come, but not now.

Bella is just here for a visit, she goes home tomorrow night. As you can see, she has her papa’s soulful eyes.

Hawk at 7½ weeks on the left. Bella at almost 10 weeks on the right.