For this month's update, I thought it would be fun to include a brief summary of what our furry
children are up to these days along with their current picture.  

Also, my dear husband, John, asked me why I never referred to our babies by their "real"
names.  Actually, every dog that we have had since being married has had two names - I call
them by their "given" name and John calls them by their "real" name.  And, believe it or not,
each dog understands that they have two names and answers to both.  So, to make John happy,
I am including the aliases for all dogs.
Maggie (AKA "Magpie" - for whatever reason) was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in
2001.  Sadly, this year her condition has taken a turn for the worse.   Her annual check-up in
February revealed that her heart has become enlarged and there was a fluid accumulation that
wasn't there before.   Throughout her entire life, Maggie's favorite pastime was eating.  She
will now go for days and not want to even get close to dog food.  She does, however, love
popcorn chicken and meatloaf with gravy, so I have to cook just for her a couple times a week
just to keep her filled up with chicken and meatloaf.  Maggie will turn 15 years old in June.
Tara (AKA "Micro" - the first of our dogs ever to have a microchip implant) is now 12 years
old.  She still enjoys looking under every rock in the yard to see if maybe she might find a frog
or chameleon to play with.  Her age is beginning to show a little bit in her coloring - what was
once tan is turning gray.  Other than that, she is healthy and happy.
Dusty (AKA "Duster" - because her big fluffy tail makes an excellent feather duster for those
dust-bunnies that like to hide in corners) hasn't aged at all since she was picked up off a busy
highway in February of 1996.  We know she's probably at least 11 years old, but amazingly, she
still acts like a puppy.  Dusty enjoys running along the fence "chasing" every pickup truck that
drives through.  There must have been a pickup truck in Dusty's past.
Reno, (AKA "Nevada" for obvious reasons) born in the summer of 1995, will soon reach his
tenth birthday.  There are no old-age problems for this boy.  If he's lucky enough to find his
ball (or any ball for that matter) there is no stopping him.  As a pure self-defense measure, we
have had to try and hide all the balls in the house, or we don't have a moment's peace.  Reno
suffers from occasional skin allergy attacks due to an environmental allergy to something
outside, but otherwise he is in excellent health.  
Serena (AKA "Grassy" so named because the very first time we met her, all she could do was
bounce around like a grasshopper-- all four feet at one time).  Serena will celebrate her tenth
birthday this fall.  Serena's favorite pastime is collecting all of my belongings that aren't nailed
down.  Anything she can find, especially shoes, that belong to me personally will end up under
the bed (her favorite hiding place).  She has never damaged anything -- she's just a collector.  
I can usually find a full wardrobe, car keys, shoes, and my purse in one place in the morning
when I'm getting ready for work.
Benji (AKA "Benji Bear").  His former owners called him "Shaft", but he looks more like a Benji
to us.  Benji was born in the spring of 1996, making him 9 years old.  Even though he has only
been in our family officially for a year, we have known him almost all his life.  He was never
content at his previous home and always came to our house to visit (all by himself, mind you).  He
is finally with us permanently and seems very happy to be alive, especially after the dog attack
that nearly took his life a few months before he came to live with us.  Benji is always "smiling"
and walking around on his hind legs waving his front paws in the air.
DeeDee (AKA "Froggie" because when she lays on her stomach with her bare back legs out
behind her, she resembles a nice set of frog legs) will turn eight years old in June of this year.  
There is no slowing down for DeeDee either.  When she gets out into the backyard and starts
running laps, she can easily be one of the fastest in our household.
Tasha (AKA "Tiny Bit" because she's probably one of the smallest American Eskimos on
record) only weighs about 7 pounds.  Born in 1999, Tasha celebrated her sixth birthday this
year.  About a year ago Tasha was diagnosed with parathyroid disease, which will eventually end
her life.  At first she was rapidly approaching full kidney failure, but has now stabilized.  Her
blood test results have come back the same since December, which is good news.  A year ago
her calcium levels were so low that her teeth moved around on her gums and her jawbone
broke, just from normal eating.  Tasha will have to remain on a special kidney diet and calcium
supplements for the rest of her life.  Her disease has not stopped her or even slowed her
down.  She is a very loving, active little girl.
Sarah (AKA "Fuzzball" because of her fuzzy hair) will be turning five years old this fall.  Sarah
is rarely seen without her squeaky toy hanging out of her mouth.  The only time she puts it down
is to eat.  If she happens to misplace it, there is no rest until it's found again.  I think I better
try and get a couple of spares just in case.
Holly (AKA "Snowball" because she is pure white with one brown ear being her only other
marking) is probably the laziest Jack Russell I have ever seen.  She can run like the wind when
she is outside, but immediately climbs up on my pillow and goes to sleep when she is inside.  It
would seem that sleeping is her favorite pastime.
April (AKA "Tadpole" simply because she's "Froggie's" first born) just turned four years old
on April 18.  April enjoys playing with her Mom (DeeDee) and just lying around doing nothing.  
April has a little game she plays by standing on her hind legs and scratching our legs until she
gets picked up.  After she's up, she knows she'll get a treat.
Angel (AKA "B.T." which stands for "Broken Tail" because she was born with a broken tail and a
few other broken parts as well).  Angel is our spoiled-rotten baby.  If she happens to find
herself all alone in the house or if she doesn't immediately get what she wants, she will let out
the most ear-piercing HOWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in the entire State of Florida.  If our
household has a "top dog", I would have to say that it's Angel all the way.  Angel's cleft palate
that she was born with has almost completely closed now except for one little spot right behind
her top front teeth.  It causes her no problems, so we'll leave it alone.   I still look at Angel and
see a miracle in the making considering all the obstacles she had to face when she was born.  
Tucker (AKA "Old Man" so named because the stress-related skin condition he had when he
came to live with us left him bald and very wrinkled.  I would prefer to think that "Old Man"
came from the nursery rhyme "Old Man Tucker Sang for His Supper").  Anyway, back to the
topic at hand, Tucker will be three years old this fall.  Tucker's favorite plaything is a water
hose that is turned on.  He will grab a running water hose and carry it all over.  Last summer I
was peacefully taking a nap on our pool deck when suddenly I was rudely awakened by cold
water.  Tucker had pulled the hose out of the pool, which was being filled at the time, and then
pointed it directly toward my lounge chair.
Rusty (AKA "Trouble" - no explanation needed on this one) will also turn three years old in the
fall (since he's Tucker's brother).  There are two things that Rusty loves to do above all else.  
The first is re-landscaping the backyard whenever he's out there and the second and
preferred is swimming in the pool.  I have actually seen Russ spend 45 minutes at a stretch
swimming non-stop.  He does laps and every so often he'll use his front paws to hit the water
surface causing it to splash.  He then tries to catch the water as it splashes down.  Rusty also
enjoys sitting on my chair with me whenever I work on the computer.  I wouldn't be at all
surprised if one day he writes his own biography.
Max (AKA "Mutant" because he has one blue eye and one brown eye) just turned one year old
on January 27.  Max is very energetic and prefers to play with his sister, Amber, and our
latest arrival, Jennie.  He enjoys napping on the pool deck in the sun although I do have to chase
him back in the house so he doesn't spend too much time outdoors.  Max is a very big boy.  He is
very muscular and solid for a miniature Dachshund, weighing in at almost 15 pounds.  You really
notice his weight when he wants to curl up on your lap.
Amber (AKA "Scooter" because she used to "scoot" around on her backside as a puppy) is
Max's sister.  Amber is a lot faster than her brother, but this is probably due to her size.  
Amber lacks in size what Max has gained.  She weighs in at 7 pounds soaking wet.  Amber also
enjoys being outside when everyone is outside and then turning into a lovable lap dog in the
Jennie (AKA "Skellatore" so nicknamed because she was bony when she first came to live with
us).  Jennie will be one year old at the end of the summer.  No more boneiness for Jennie.  She
is actually a little overweight now.  Jennie seems to sense that she is Holly and Sarah's baby
sister.  When Amber and Max are pre-occupied with something else, Jennie will usually spend
time with her sisters.  She especially likes to snatch Sarah's squeaky toy when Sarah's not
looking.  Then the chase is on, usually ending with a game of "tug of war" with the squeaky
(assuming Sarah can catch up with Jennie).  
This concludes my summary updates for April 2005 on my furry children.  
I created the background for this page directly from a picture I received from Ollie's Mom in
Ohio.  Ollie has personally sent up the first Crocus of the year directly from Rainbow Bridge.
Please visit Ollie's memorial page.