Sunday, May 10, 2020

UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, II: Praise, Front Matter, Chapter 1.

Understanding Sassie II: A Second Novel of Dog and Human Communication

This is the second in a series of true-to-life fictional books about dogs and those who love them. We will be serializing the chapters weekly. This book and several otehrs of hers are available through

Praise for Understanding Sassie and for Understanding Sassie II
I so enjoyed returning to the characters I first met in Understanding Sassie. I like reading a continuing story about familiar characters while being introduced to new information. Sassie II does both. The widening circle of people and animals that are inter-related help carry the narrative through plausible problems. This story demonstrates how the human family/ community works together to solve problems, while giving new insights into how animals work together to help each other as well. I’m thrilled to know a third book is forthcoming. The building of this peaceful place reminds me of Jan Karon’s “Mitford” series. I look forward to learning where Sassy takes me and what Sassy has to teach me next!
Jane Stratton, Registered Nurse.
Understanding Sassie II is a wonderful and heartwarming story that brings about lots of different emotions. While reading about the lives of the various characters and their connections with each other and with the dogs in the book, I found it to be suspenseful, happy, sad, fun, and an especially great love story. Enjoyed it immensely!
Nancy Pic, Dental Hygienist.
What a delight to read Helen’s second book of her series, “Understanding Sassie.” It was exciting to fellow her characters that I have grown to love. Helen’s writes with such detail that I feel I can smell the coffee brewing at the animal shelter. Through Helen’s words and work I have come to appreciate how intuitive, intelligent, and loyal dogs can be. If you love dogs as I do, you’ll appreciate Understanding Sassie II. Thank you, Helen, for a good read.
Judy Rosebrook, Retired nurse, singer

To all those who show kindness and compassion.

To my beloved husband, Bruce: A special “thank you” to you for your patience, encouragement, and understanding during the writing of this book
To Doug Cooper: You may hold the title of coach, but you have become so much more. You’re my teacher, my punctuation specialist, and a special friend. I’ve often said that you are worth your weight in gold. Actually, you are worth more than that to me. Your wisdom and “fine tuning” of my writing has been, for me, invaluable!
To Mechelle: Thank you for sharing your art. My covers are special because of your talent in drawing awesome dogs. It is an honor to be able to use these pictures.
To you, the reader: Thank you for accepting Sassie as your language-of-dogs’ teacher and for your recognition of how love and respect when used in dog training will always conquer fear.

“Grandma, what is going to happen to the characters in Understanding Sassie?” Jacob asked. My grandson had enjoyed reading my book but wanted to know more about its characters. He continued his questioning and asked, “Are you going to write more about Sassie and all the other people in the book?” I found validation in his excitement about my book. Teaching by using a story has always been, for me, an effective way to help someone remember an important lesson.
In my many years of teaching dog obedience, I have discovered that not all humans understand what the dog is trying to tell them. Although I’ve enjoyed my opportunities to teach classes on dog communication (the body language of dogs), my goal has always been to reach a wider audience.
I believe if you can understand what someone is saying, any fear or confusion can be eliminated. We can listen to them and feel comfortable in recognizing what they are saying to us.
I also believe that if fear and confusion are eliminated, we are more inclined to listen and respect someone’s (or some dog’s) communication.
My grandson was not the only one to urge me to write more about Sassie and her friends. I’m grateful for so many others that have encouraged me.
If you are reading this book and have not read Understanding Sassie, there is no need to read Understanding Sassie before reading this second book. I have given enough information that you can read the two books in any order.
I invite you to enjoy Understanding Sassie II, as it shares more lessons, stories, and adventures.

eg’s mom had only stared at the puppy in disbelief. She was proud of the fact that she kept her house spotless. The neighbors all said that if an award was given for the cleanest home, Peg’s mom would be the neighborhood winner.

Seeing this dirty, long-haired dog, Peg’s mom began screaming, “No! That puppy will not come into this house!” Peg had pulled Lady closer to her chest as her mom continued to yell. “That filthy animal needs to go!”

Peg could feel that Lady was shivering. “Stop yelling! You are scaring Lady!” Peg’s tears started to flow. She began to step backwards.

Peg’s father had just come home, and when he heard the shouting, he walked around the house to see what it was about. Seeing Peg crying, he asked his wife, “Honey, why are you yelling at Peg?”

He put his arm around Peg, and then he noticed the puppy. He gently took Lady into his arms, “What a beautiful puppy!”

His wife lowered her voice but was determined to get rid of this bundle of dirt. With her hands on her hips, she announced to her husband, “We are not going to keep this mutt!”

Peg and Patrick were enjoying their daily walk. This was a routine the teenagers often shared, and today was no exception. Only today, they were also walking their young dogs.

It was a sunny spring day; the temperature was comfortable, and the soft breeze was just enough to tickle the leaves. When they got to Riverview Park, they decided to sit on one of the benches there. Patrick reached down to unclip the leash from the collar of his dog, Pal. Peg had already unclipped her leash from Lady’s collar.

The teenagers smiled as the dogs gave their play bows and danced off to play a game of chase. “I never tire of watching them play. Remember the first time we saw the play bow?” Patrick asked Peg. 

“With their butts in the air and their front legs and elbows on the ground, it really did look like they were doing bows.”

Peg replied, “Can you believe it has been six months since we found these two puppies?” “Remember how interested they were in our picnic food?” Patrick replied with a smile.

“I was surprised at their willingness to trust us.”

Patrick continued, “Peg, you knew they were hungry, and your idea of giving them a trail of treats was brilliant!”

Peg looked at Lady chasing Pal and said, “Yes, that was easy, compared to your dad’s and my mom’s unwillingness to accept our dogs. I can still remember how horrified my mom became when I brought Lady home.”

Although she had told Patrick her story many times, she began to tell the story again:
“Lady was in my arms. When I saw Mom, I announced, ‘Guess what! This is Lady, my new puppy!’”
That was when my mom began screaming that I could not keep my puppy. I was in love with Lady, and I was determined to beg, if I needed to, for keeping my dog. “I will give her a bath. I’ll take care of Lady, and you can use all my allowance for any food or other things she may need.”

Peg’s father looked down at the puppy. He had already fallen in love with Lady. “Honey, we could keep her for a month and see how she fits into our lifestyle. She might be an excellent security system when she gets older. Can’t you at least agree to a trial period?”

His wife slowly responded, ‘I will let that dog stay for now, but Peg, you and your father are responsible for all the work, care, and expenses of this dog. I do not want anything to do with this puppy!” 

“Yes,” said Patrick. “At that time, I thought I, too, was going to have a big problem with both of my parents. I believed that they would not want me to have a puppy! I remember walking slowly home. I planned to enter the house quietly and hide Pal upstairs in my bedroom.”

“Your mom surprised you,” Peg interjected.

“Yes, my mom had just turned off the television when I walked in. Her reaction surprised me. My mom’s eyes seemed to light up and she said, ‘What an adorable puppy! Can I hold him? Does he have a name?’”

Patrick had reluctantly handed the puppy to his mom and told her, “His name is Pal.”

Patrick’s mom instantly fell in love with Pal. “He not only looks a lot like the dog I had as a child, but you gave this puppy the same name as my childhood dog.” Patrick’s mom said this softly while she caressed Pal’s fur. Then she gently placed him on the floor and watched Pal begin to sniff around the room.

Patrick’s father would be coming home soon. Concerned about his father’s reaction to Pal, Patrick had looked at his mom and asked, “Do you think Dad will let me keep him?”

Before she could answer, his father walked in the door. He stopped, stared at the puppy, and then loudly questioned, “Why is this mutt in our house?”

The very loud voice made Pal act small. It was a submissive posture. Pal was trying to tell this loud person that he would not be a problem. As Patrick’s father continued to yell, Pal did a submissive pee to try, once again, in a different way, to prove he really was no threat to anyone. “He is peeing in the house! Take him outside, now!” Patrick’s father had continued to yell, and he had pointed at the door. Patrick grabbed Pal and ran out that door.

His mother saw the look on Patrick’s face and made a firm decision. She was going to keep this dog. “What is your problem? Bad day at work? Traffic tie-up? You can stop the noise right now and listen to me. Do you love hunting?” 

“Yes,” her husband had replied.

“And have you said many times that you wanted a good and reliable alarm system?” 

“Yes,” her husband said again.

Patrick’s mom pointed her finger at her husband and in an authoritative voice said, “Let me tell you why this dog is going to stay. First: if this dog is trained properly, he could grow up to be a good hunting companion. Second: dogs have a keen sense of smell and hearing. They can alert us to smoke and fire long before any smoke alarm would tell us. The security of a dog protecting his home is far better than any noisy alarm and faster than a call to the police. Pal will be cared for by Patrick and me, so you will accept Pal as the newest member of our home!”

Reluctantly, Patrick’s father had said, “I will accept this dog a lot easier when he learns some house manners.”

When Patrick returned with Pal, he began to say, “I’ll give up my…,” but his father stopped him in mid-sentence.

“No need to say anything, son, your mom has explained all, and Pal will be living here.”

The teenagers were quiet for a while and Patrick softly said, “I don’t think these puppies would have survived the weather last winter if we had not rescued them when we did. Remember how the temperatures got to 40 below zero, and how there were yardstick-deep snow drifts around the area?”

Peg agreed and added, “Remember the night you were able to have Pal sleep in bed with you?”

“Yes,” Patrick responded, “You said that’s also when you were able to have Lady lie on your bed.”

Peg smiled and remarked, “The puppies were like little heaters that kept us nice and warm.”

Patrick started to smile and said, “I’ve got a new dog joke. Do you want to hear it?”

Peg nodded yes, and Patrick began, “A Great Dane and a Golden Retriever were walking down a path when the Dane confided to the Golden, ‘My life is a mess. My human is mean, and I’m as nervous as a hamster.’

“‘Why don’t you go see a psychiatrist?’ suggested the Golden.

“‘I can’t,’ replied the Dane, ‘I’m not allowed on the couch.’”

Peg began to laugh, and when Patrick looked at the puppies, he started to laugh as well, “Take a look at those silly puppies. Not only are they having fun, but I always seem to laugh when I watch them. 
One of my favorite games to watch them play is the stallion game,”

Peg commented, “That is a good description of that type of play, because they look like two horses fighting. They rise up onto their back paws with the front legs in the air, waving their paws at one another.”

Patrick added, “They maneuver with their back legs and try to get into position for a good fighting stance.”

Peg began to reflect on how much they had discovered about the dogs’ language. She said, “That is why I like to go to the Puppy Play Days at the Riverview Shelter. Miss Millie explains what the dogs are saying to each other. Like how to know the difference between real play and real fighting. She says the key is the play bow given before the play fight. The play bow says that whatever the puppies do after the bow is not real fighting but just playing.”

Pat remarked, “Sometimes it does sound like a real fight, but the dogs understand their dog language.”

Peg added, “I’m glad Miss Millie helps us understand their dog talk. That reminds me, we don’t want to forget that there is a puppy play date this Saturday.”

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