Want some cake? Here’s an invitation from The Paddle Pups …
Phoebe joined me in taking the Paddle Pups, Wyeth and Watson, for a hike in Niquette Bay State Park this morning. We go often.
Judging by this photo, you would have to think that the outing was a serene one – walking through the beautiful woods, hearing the birds chirp, watching the dogs run to and fro playing with one another when not in hot pursuit for that little chipmunk. Yup, that’s what you would glean from this snapshot of Lake Champlain and the gorgeous Green Mountains in the horizon.
Well, it was anything but …
Started off just fine. And then: rotten fish; swarming yellow jackets (and yes, bee stings); rotten fish, again; dogs and more dogs and some unpleasant folks; lake baths to rid the smell (didn’t help); pine brush “rubs” on the dogs’ coats (nope, ineffective) ; car ride home with all the windows open; outdoor baths; cleaning the new office dog bed; … and now taking the pups home for yet another, more serious tub bath!
We’re exhausted and we still need to serve Sunday dinner.
But, that’s okay. Despite the busy morning we all had, Wyeth and Watson included, Phoebe and I find ourselves laughing. We did have the best of intentions …
As many of you know, I flew out to Wisconsin earlier in the year (late February, to be more accurate) to pick up Wyeth’s brother, Watson. And, as the story goes, while I was out there (the one full day), I fell photographing my friends while they worked their dogs in the pheasant field. Fractured my knee cap. Flew home with Watson on my lap. Week later, had the big surgery and it’s been a wild ride ever since.
Okay, back to my initial question. After all Watson’s playful nipping, and tugging, and jumping on, and chasing, and stealing her cherished dock-jumping-bumper, I thought Wyeth would welcome the down time this morning. You see, we dropped off my six month old pup to the vet just under three hours ago. (If you have male dogs, you probably have already picked up the hint to Watson’s visit to the vet. Let’s just say he couldn’t wait to go inside – thinking it was a play date, of sorts I suspect.)
Anyway, my girl and I returned to work in the office here at The Paddle. First on the agenda: feed her since she couldn’t eat this morning as is their daybreak ritual. (Just wouldn’t be fair to little Watson. No food, pending surgery and all.)
Well, after pushing her kibble around a bit with her nose, she’s been lying on her bed, eyes wide open. Do I dare say it? Looking a bit sad. Hmm.
I think she’s lonely.
Despite having her whole bed to herself where she can stretch her legs and relax and enjoy the calm – with me.
Nope. I think she’d rather have the chaos that comes naturally with having a younger, not littler, brother …
I guess, I’m a bit out of sorts, as well. Three o’clock can’t come soon enough …
Just out on the newstands, the newest edition of Vermont Woman newspaper* can be found – with a wonderful article about my best friend and business partner, Phoebe. Two page spread, with five photos – one being of The Paddle Pup!
Here’s the paragraph that talks about Wyeth:
(Early on in the story) “Down the wooden stairs bounded ‘Paddle Pup’ Wyeth, a bouncy German wirehaired pointer. Chef Phoebe was in the kitchen getting ready to cut up a big piece of fresh tuna, and co-owner Mandy Hotchkiss came down the stairs to greet me and affectionately scold Wyeth.”
Yes, true to form, my dog loves people and tends to be a little overly happy to see everyone who visits our restaurant. Yes, it’s true I “affectionately scolded” her (Wyeth, stay down girl). And, yes it true that I’d rather have a pup that kisses a person to death, matter of speaking, that barks or growls …
Indeed, I have one joyful happy little dog … thanks, in part, to Chef Phoebe, whose talents do not start and end in the kitchen but flow into our every day life.
Congratulations, Phoebe on an article that truly captures the essence about you – that you are one terrific human being who has endured so much that life has thrown at you with a smile in your on your face and a true will to survive. Your an inspiration to us all! e
Soon, this story will finds itself framed and on a wall here at The Paddle. My two best friends on one printed page for me, as well as all our customers to enjoy.
Just awesome. Really awesome.
* Vermont Woman’s Newspaper was named “Newspaper of the Year, 2011 by the New England Newspaper & Press Association
Today, Phoebe took my dog out for this year’s ‘maiden voyage’ on Lake Champlain. Keeler Bay, to be exact. Within 30 minutes, they returned from their walk.
“Wyeth didn’t enjoy herself,” proclaimed Phoebe, adding: “The ice was crackling a lot, and you know how that sound can be haunting.”
I nodded, looking at my dog for any signs of mental trauma. No, she was already past that ordeal and on to playing with her stuffed football.
Blame it on the holidays. I can’t carry a tune. I can’t sing, I shouldn’t sing … and, most importantly for all of you, I DON’T sing.
But all week long I’ve had a plethora of songs stuck in my head – from the traditional Christmas carol to the voice of Alvin (you know, that chipmunk).
Now, as I look through my pictures from yesterday’s hunt with Phoebe & Wyeth, I’ve got yet another genre up there – the show tune.
Yup, I find myself humming to Julie Andrews and her favourite things. Not entirely a Christmas song, I understand, but it has that warm spirit that we associate with this time of year, don’t you think ?
Without further adieu, my own first verse:
Snowflakes on noses & gun smoke on mittens,
Wide open meadows & Wyeth a-smitten,
Phoebe adorned with a shotgun to swing,
These are a few of my favourite things.
P.S. While Phoebe doesn’t shoot with mittens on, she does wear them to and fro the field. I was taking poetic license with that line
Take the safety off
when shooting the pheasant ...
… that Wyeth ambitiously found,
and patiently yearned for while I shouldered my shotgun …
* * * * *
Moral of the Story:
Live up to your dog’s expectations.
You gotta be able to laugh at yourself
I’m going to write this without the permission of my friend. Nor the permission of Seven Days with using it’s front cover photo.
For many of you, I suspect, you know who Mary is by the ‘press’ she’s received over the years – as entrepreneur, banker and, most notably, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power. Every positive thing you have read about her is true- she’s a powerful, dynamic businesswoman. I’m not going to talk about what you can ‘google’ about her. All that stuff is out there.
I want to share with you why just the smile of her eyes or the touch of her hands can bring tears to my eyes and evoke a sense of warmth in my heart.
For me, she’s:
- The woman who marched into our little hole-in-the-wall breakfast and lunch joint, AfterNoonies, one morning and announced that Phoebe and I weren’t going anywhere. (You see, we were trying to find a location to have a real night-time restaurant in the Islands and were just about to pack-up our stuff, and our pride, and get out of Dodge). She and her extraordinary husband, Mark Brooks, apparently had just negotiated a deal on our behalf for our current location. A building we had our eyes on but was, financially, beyond our reach.
- The woman who relieved me of my role of bedside companion to Phoebe when she had just come out of surgery from her tongue cancer and was placed in the ICU. I had to get back to The Paddle to oversee a Friday night in August and was over-the-top worried about Phoebe being left alone. She said she’d be there, wanted to be there, needed to be there and took control as much for me, I suspect, as for my dearest friend, Phoebe. I’ll never forget walking away, looking back over my shoulder and seeing Mary cradle Phoebe’s little, beat-up body in her arms. With the warmest of smiles, and the saddest of eyes, she winked at me and her mere presence was larger than life. All would be okay, at least, for that evening in Phoebe’s life. To the day I die, I will never, ever forget that one moment in my entire life.
- The woman who politely, yet ever so succinctly, reminded me that due dates are due dates. Enough said.
- The woman who can walk into The Paddle, after a lengthy, grueling bicycle work-out (all sweaty and dirty) and still light up our restaurant and everyone around her. I swear, and I often tell her, she’s even more prettier, more handsome – more “all that” – when she’s just completed her exercise. (I’m blushing a bit but those of you who have witnessed this Mary – you know what I’m talking about!)
You know, dear readers, I’ll never forget what my mother once told me. It went something like: If you leave this place, we call earth, with a few people you really love, really care about and who truly love and care about you, consider yourself lucky and have lived a rich life.
Well, Mom – that’s me.
Last night, I walked up to the little bar table in the corner to greet a woman I’ve never seen before at The Paddle. Before I could barely say “hello”, she looked at me & asked: “Are you Wyeth’s mom?” A huge grin appeared on my face. She elaborated that she had checked out our web site & stumbled across the Paddle Pup page where she spent some time reading about Wyeth. Of course, I share some photos with my dog & that’s how she recognized me.
You know, life is pretty good.
I have the distinct honor of being Phoebe’s best friend.
And the pleasure of being Wyeth’s “mom”.
At least in my own mind, I have two claims to fame.
… with a dog like Wyeth, we’ll never starve.
Yup, she’s a hunter. My dear friend (and Wyeth’s breeder), Jan, told me that almost two years ago. I’ll never forget that evening when I called her up to see if I could have one of her puppies. I had never talked with her before but I went on and on about how I’d be a good candidate for one of her dogs. After hearing me out, she told me that she wouldn’t sell me a pup: “I never sell to non-hunters, Mandy. Thanks for calling …”
Wait, hold on … I was trying to catch me breath. What else could I say to convince this woman, I remember thinking to myself.
Well, it took a lot of convincing, but she finally said she would make the sole exception for me. And, here we are – Wyeth, the “Great White Hunter” (of sorts) and me – her trusty sidekick.
Okay, back to why I started writing this blog entry. Wyeth’s new craze is hunting the one, lonely frog that swims in her “pond”. She’s obsessed with the little amphibian. I mean, between every toss of the frisbee she needs to check out the pond to see if it has returned. She even holds point when it’s hopping on land. It’s really quite funny and truly entertaining to watch.
So, this morning I called Jan out in Wisconsin to tell her about my dog’s latest hunting pursuit. Jan let out a little chuckle and reminded me that Wyeth’s dad, Volt, is the same way. (It was during my first training session with Jan that I do recall Volt running around Jan’s very large, very beautiful pond looking for frogs, as well.)
So, I guess I need not be concerned. I mean – come on, Volt was on the cover of Gun Dog magazine three years ago. And, he likes frogs.
Like father, like daughter.