Tag Archives: dogs

Just For Tito

Posting about Tito the other day motivated me to finally order a memorial stone for his spot in the yard. I was so excited when I opened up the package, I got a little teary-eyed. Image

The stone is from a store on etsy. I had actually purchased a stone for Lucas’ pumpkin garden from the same store a few years ago. I was really happy with the quality, so I went back to see what they had for pets. The dog option featured a simple paw. It was nice, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if there was any way they could replace the paw with Tito’s distinct silhouette. I sent them the link to the pictures I created for Marco’s room as an example. Tito’s was created with this image:



The store owner replied right away, telling me the special silhouette would be no problem at all.

I’m so happy with the way it turned out. It’s the perfect piece for our guy who was known for his distinct silhouette and those big, beautiful ears.

A special dog deserves a special piece.

And that’s just what he got.


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The “Teeters” Playlist

A few months ago, I got a new car. A new car, with a USB hookup. Excited to try out the accessory, I plugged in my old, neglected iPod Mini, and started scrolling through the playlists. That’s when I came across “Teeters.” I, of course, stopped for a moment, gave a deep sigh, and thought about my amazing dog. The one we lost so suddenly earlier this year. Then, I tried to remember why I had a playlist named after him. Naming the playlist after Tito didn’t surprise me – it’s no secret that I’m borderline crazy for my pets. But there had to be a reason I coined this vast mix of music – from Don’t Stop Believing to Dixieland Delight – after our old buddy. Then it hit me.

Tito was originally Lucas’ dog. He adopted him as a puppy from the Columbia Humane Society (sure to be a “real” German Shepherd), and eventually made his way back to St. Louis with him. Tito was three when Lucas and I started dating. And, in all honesty, before I feel in love with my husband, I fell in love with his dog. Those loyal brown eyes and big, always-alert ears were all it took. This dog and I had a connection. So, when I was moving into a new house, and Lucas asked me if I’d consider having Tito live with me rather than go into an apartment with him, I didn’t hesitate.


Which brings me back to the playlist.

It was a party playlist.

Rather than throw the old, cliché housewarming party when I moved in, we had a “Sweet Baby Teeters Welcoming Party.” The perfect way to celebrate my new house with my new roommate. I don’t really remember anything significant from that soiree. Lucas and I had a lot of parties in that house. But, I love the fact that I’ll always have the playlist in his honor. And that I fatefully came across it just weeks after we lost him. If there was any dog who deserved a celebratory welcoming, it was Tito.

Tito was so smart, genuine, and possessed a level of empathy I’ve never seen in any other dog. He loved camping and swimming, and even outswam a pair of labs on an 11 mile float trip back in the day. He loved coming to work with me, and was so loyal he never needed the baby gate (though, I will admit, he had quite a tough-guy attitude around other dogs, so it did go up from time to time). He even joined me out at a meeting at Purina Farms one time, where he got to live it up as “performance” dog, catching a Frisbee out in the ring and attempting to “dive” off the dock for a beloved tennis ball. I beamed like a proud parent that day, knowing my little man had had the time of his life. He had a bizarre love of vegetables. I couldn’t cut up a green pepper without him showing up, begging for a slice. And peas? Forget about it. He was in heaven. One pea, and he’d run to the carpet and begin performing his back-side, wiggle, rub the floor, snort with excitement victory dance. And THEN eat the single green vegetable. He loved tennis balls. Loved them to the point that I still can’t bring myself to throw away the piles of them in both our home and at my office. He was one of Marco’s first words, “Tee-To. Tee-To.” So fun to say that Marco continued to call Frankie by his name after he was gone. He definitely wasn’t an easy guy to forget.


Tito swimming in the diving dog pool out at Purina Farms


Tito happily playing in the snow, just a few weeks before we found out he was sick.


Out at Lake Michigan, again, with his ball.


Leading the way, like the alpha dog he was.

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Tito being a good sport as he began to accept the fact that Frankie wasn’t going anywhere.

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Handsome man.

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Happy guy.


Tito realizing Marco wasn’t going anywhere, either.


Tito passed away this past March. He was only 9. It all happened really quickly. Within 2 weeks of finding out he had a tumor on his spleen, he was gone. It’s a unique illness, in that he’d have an episode, become sick and weak, then rebound and bounce back to the old, lively dog we all knew and loved. He had probably 3 of these episodes until one was powerful enough to take him. All I kept saying was I wanted one last day of nice weather for Tito to go out and enjoy before he died. Considering the cold, wet, unending winter we were having, that was a lot to ask. But, sure enough, we had a Sunday of beautiful, spring-like weather. Tito, Frankie and Marco ran around outside, throwing the ball and enjoying the day. Tito enjoyed bowls of peas and some wet dog food. Then, we all went to bed, and when we woke up in the morning, I went downstairs to find Frankie alone, waiting to go outside. Tito had passed away in our family room while we were sleeping. It wasn’t easy, but I took comfort in knowing it happened over night, we didn’t have to go through the additional pain of putting him down, and he got that one last day to be the amazing, energetic, passionate dog he had always been.


Tito’s favorite place. On the river, with his people.

We miss you, buddy. Always will. Thanks for being incredible.

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How to Enjoy Fishing and Camping (when you’re not really into fishing and camping)

The many ways I’ve survived embraced marriage to an outdoorsman.

Within the first year of dating Lucas, I had about 16 camping trips under my belt. Both family and friends were quite amused by this fact. And still are to this day. It’s not that I’m high-maintenance. I did, in fact, once accompany my brother, his wife and her brother on a 4-day hike through the Idaho Sawtooth Mountains.
And what did I have to show for it?
Two bone-revealing blisters, a deep appreciation for plumbing and a cross-my-heart promise that I would never, ever, partake in such an activity again.
It was painful. And at one point, my brother was rehearsing how he was going to tell my mom that I didn’t survive. And you really could see my bones through the blisters on heels. Eek.

I will admit, it was it was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. And something I’ll never forget. But next time, I’m taking a horse.

So how can you enjoy camping, even if you’re convinced it’s not your thing?
It’s simple…

1. Bring Your Best Buds.
When Lucas heads to the river (tackle box-in-hand), there are two pals who never fail to keep me company.
And provide entertainment.

 2. Catch up on your reading.
I have difficulty finding enough time for my magazines and my books. But when we’re out in the wilderness, and Lucas is focusing on his small mouth bass, I have absolutely no problem relaxing from cover-to-cover. 

3. Explore

Typically, we camp at Meramec Springs State Park. I learned very quickly that the trail around the springs offers beautiful scenery, 


and tranquility.

4. Look closely.
Enjoy the things you’d never see in your own backyard.

(which isn’t always a bad thing…)

5. Play.
I almost beat him this time…
 6. Bring a cook
(or at least someone who’s excited to throw the charcoal on the grill)

7. Remember why you came.
Yes, I have to admit, half the reason he’s gotten me to go so many times is because I know how happy it makes him to be out here. Which makes me happy, too. :)

8. Make sure he appreciates you’re there.
Hey, he’s not always a romantic…but his little etch (in our picnic table) makes me smile. ;P

9. R E L A X
Notice the screw top? There has been more than one occasion that the corkscrew was nowhere to be found.  No worries here.

And a crackling fire helps, too. 

10. Remember Home Is Just A Dirt Road Away.
So, even if your camping experience wasn’t the best, just keep in mind that that’s what it is. An experience. And, if you do it my way, you’ll be back on the road and headed back to a clean home and cozy shower in no time.

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Puppy Power

Last week, for the first time in my life, I got teary-eyed while getting in a workout at the gym. No, it wasn’t the intense burn of 35 enduring minutes on the elliptical (I only wish I was that moved by a workout). It was actually something that caught my eye on the TV screen ahead.

ABC was featuring a news story on therapy dogs, and the ability they have to help improve a child’s reading skill. The sound wasn’t even turned on, but the images of this boy and a dog, combined with the little snippets of hope appearing in the captions, just got to me.

If you didn’t catch it, the video says that a recent study done over a 10-week program showed that children who were struggling to read increased their skill level by 12% when working with a dog. The kids in the study who didn’t read to a dog did not increase their skill level at all. In short, it’s the non-discriminating nature of a dog that builds a child’s confidence, which in turn improves their reading.

Reading with kids is a part of therapy that I have yet to do with Frankie, but one I keep saying I want to try. She adores kids, and I can just imagine her looking up at them with her big, brown puppy-dog eyes, giving them an encouraging kiss on the cheek, and then offering her paw —  so she can hold their hands while they work their way through each page.


P.S.  Just in case you’re wondering…that sweet black dog with the big-ole ears wasn’t Tito, but now I can’t help but want to get him registered, too…


Filed under frankie therapy, life with fur

My Favorite Camper

Just wanted to share a photo of the best camper there ever was.

We headed to Meramec Springs for the night, and as usual, Tito was one happy little man.

( those ears say it all…)

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New in Town

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kirkwood, Missouri. It’s a charming suburb town about 15 minutes outside of  St. Louis City. And cookie-cutter it is not. It’s full of character, charm and  historic, well-loved homes. Downtown Kirkwood is centered around a historic train station, which is surrounded by countless shops and restaurants…with new ones popping up every day.

Last week, Tito, Frankie and I took a walk downtown…and it’s August…in St. Louis…and this summer is just like all the others…hot. So when we walked past a new store called Clay and Cotton, I was more than thrilled to find a giant dog bowl cheerfully welcoming my thirsty pals to take a drink.

Yey for a dog-friendly Clay and Cotton!

It must have been about 4.8 seconds later that a tiny terrier (seriously about the size of Frankie’s right paw) came darting at us. While he tried to interest my dogs in a game of “betcha can’t get me,”  I spotted the store he had escaped from —  Blush (another Kirkwood staple, now with a new home). Which was exactly when it hit me…

I need to return with my camera and give a few of these new shops some Living Room love!!!

And, that, I did…

First Stop — Clay and Cotton
(aka. Tito and Frankie’s new favorite watering hole)
157 West Argonne Drive   :  corner of Clay and Argonne

What’s Inside : home goods (especially bright, cheerful rugs and pillows), gifts, women’s clothing
Feel : vibrant style with a modern-day euro twist — colorful, friendly, upscale, green
Plus : super dog-friendly…LIKE if you go for their grand opening September 16-19, 10% of all purchases go to Stray Rescue (if I wasn’t sold already, hearing that sealed the deal)

Take a Peek…

quite possibly the cheeriest wall in town...fun, bright pillows, quilts and blankets to lust

each vibrant, unique rug has been inspired by a cultural icon or event, about $75

"green" picture frame made with recycled magazine pages, $25

and bowl to match, $47

a little nod to the StL with fleurdelis glasses, $10 each

I highly, highly suggest you (and Rover) check out the newest store on the block!

Next Stop — Blush
(okay, it’s not new…but the location is ;)
110 N. Clay Avenue

What’s Inside : women’s clothing, jeans, jewelry and even a little furniture
Feel : stylish, young, upscale, hip…everything you need for a night on the town
Plus: their store has had such success, they had to move from their original space on Jefferson to a bigger, brighter space just around the corner

Take a Peek…

the perfect balance of style and sass

cute summer pieces

bedazzle me!

now imagine wearing these WHILE sipping from those matching fleurdelis glasses...cute, huh?

I loved their handmade "back-to-school" window decor...

...and a little bummed to hear they weren't for sale. guess I'll just have to make some of my own.

Join Blush on Facebook and get in all the newest styles, updates and SALES!

And Our Final Stop — Funky Junky
(perfect for the upcycler in us all)
112 E. Jefferson Street

What’s Inside : upscale resale, antiques, uniques, surprises!
Feel : whimsical, fun, antiquing, discovery
Plus: they constantly get new (to you) things in…so you never know what treasure you might find inside!

Take a Peek…

treasure waiting to be found

love, love, loved this shabby-chic chalkboard, $42

teapot planter, $23.50

and an old-school (umm...literally) locker full of "hidden" treasures!

That’s the end of the tour for today. For a little more info on all the new places, check out this recent write-up in the Webster Kirkwood Times. And, while you’re browsing, don’t forget to stop by two of my all-time favorite Kirkwood shops Christopher’s (across from the Farmer’s Market) and Moonbeams (next door to Funky Junky).

Kirkwood Farmer's Market



Filed under around town, this 'n that

I Heart Thursdays

I heart Thursdays. They’re the one day a week when I can completely put everything in my life on hold, and take time to focus on others.

Each Thursday, Frankie (my dog) and I visit Barnes-Jewish Hospital. We’ve been making our visits every week for about a year and a half. I can honestly say it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I feel incredibly fortunate to even have the opportunity to do this…not to mention to have a dog who’s incredible enough to put a little glow on the cheeks of each and every person she passes by.

For the first few months of our visits, we stuck strictly to the 15th floor, aka — the psychiatric unit. It can sound scary, but the moment you witness fearful, lonely eyes transform into an unbridled smile…you get it. We’ve seen so many amazing things that I wish I would have started writing about it from the beginning. We’ve had a patient who was too sad to speak, except  for the days she saw Frankie. We had a girl who laid in bed with tears for days, until the day Frankie jumped up with her and gave her a reason to laugh. We’ve taught people who only ever knew of dogs as fighters, that their true role in life is to be loved. It’s been amazing.

And then one day, after a few months on the psych unit, word of our visits got around. It could have been our feature in the BJC Newsletter, or maybe just the fact that it’s kind of hard to miss a 75 pound dog on your way up the elevator. Whatever it was, we soon got a call from a cardiac unit begging us to come make a difference in an ill patient’s life. She was an elderly woman who wasn’t doing well. We only saw her for a few weeks, but the visits were very special to us. I’ll save the story for another post, because it’s worthy of its own. But that visit was what brought us down to the heart unit, which we’ve now been visiting for over a year.

About a month ago we were asked to see another patient. One who has had probably the greatest impact of all. She was a heart patient. A young one. We were told that she had been in the hospital for over 6 months, just waiting for a transplant. So, without question, Frankie and I went to go see her. Before I even met her, I saw her door..filled with magazine cut-outs of happy, smiling dogs and cats (my kind of girl :). We walked in, and she was beautiful. She’s in her 20’s, and got married last summer (which I think meant even more to me since I did, too). Her mom was always there with her; her husband was usually at work when we got there. There was an extra bed in the room for her mom. She had already gone through a transplant 10 years earlier. She was now hoping for her second. She would sit in her bed, and Frankie would lay down beside her. She couldn’t get up because it was too hard on her 20-year old heart to walk around. She told me all about her dogs and cats at home, and how much she missed them and wanted them to snuggle up in bed with her. She told me how she’d always wanted to be a vet and how she used to save the wildlife in her yard, including a baby bunny who she’d found wounded, and she nursed him all the way to putting Neosporin on his cuts before bandaging them up. She was so strong. Six months into her marriage, at a time in her life when her biggest concern should be what time she’s getting off work or where she’s taking her next big vacation, and she was sitting, confined to that bed, always with a smile on her face, telling me how neat it was that she could see the 4th of July fireworks from her hospital room window. The last time I saw her was 3 weeks ago.

I was out of town the week after that. When I returned last week, I was told, “We called up to her floor. She’s not there…She got a heart.” I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to hear that. Clearly, it was too soon for us to go visit her. I was hoping today we could at least find out where she was to send a card. But, today, she was no longer in the hospital. I will find out more next week, but we believe that means she went home. I’m so excited for her. She’s finally home. Where a beautiful, young girl belongs.

I keep describing this as “amazing.” It really is. I’m also lucky. It’s an experience that I would never, ever give up. If we miss a week, I can’t wait to get back. Whenever I leave, I feel this sense of comfort in the thought that maybe, just maybe, I made a difference in someone’s day.

I couldn’t do any of this on my own. I need to give credit to my friend, Ashley, who is a nurse at Barnes and gave me the lead that led us to our visits. And Shelly, who is the social worker/activity therapist who selflessly walks from room to room with Frankie and me on each visit. And Purina, my employer, who sponsored a group of us to get registered through Delta Society to become Pet Partners.

I plan on writing many more posts about our pet therapy experiences. If you’re interested in pet therapy, let me know. It’s easy, and worth it. If you know of a place that could benefit from some visits, let me know, too. Delta-St. Louis has a facebook page you can check out, too.

Frankie (Bella and Sugar in background) at the Children's Home Society Carnival

Thanks for listening to me. This is my longest post yet, but one that is probably closest to my heart…and definitely a part of my “living room.”

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