My Life: Muddied By Paw Prints

Kenji Hobbs

01 November 2022

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Chateau Retirement’s Reflections series highlights the rich life experiences of our residents. This month, enjoy an autobiographical account by Terri Weiner, told through her many loyal dogs.


Captain January 

You were my first as I was theirs

a soft-haired Springer Spaniel




then momentarily still in a

pre-war sepia print,

your black-and-white spots

amidst my tumble of dark curls.

I’m two – then three – always a



and muckamucks.

A Fairbanks baby,

And her warm burrow of fur.



The Team:  Buck, Spud, and Mike 

Huge working huskies

Not pets,

(but to me).

A mining camp deep in the Alaskan terrain

where a pigtailed 7-year-old

turns to them

as her friends.

Hours of

roaming the woods

fly-fishing the stream

running toward the plane*

and its weekly supplies.




Part Cocker, part Dachshund

A tomboy’s best pal.

Run with the gang

along the dike

that keeps the Columbia

from Southeastern Washington’s

atomic town.

Sneak her into

Saturday movies

Lure a pure-bred male

 into our basement

(my mother’s way of

avoiding stud fees).

Peek later to watch

Red in her new home.

Mom, don’t tear little girls

Away from their dogs.




From a San Francisco pound

to 7 lush acres

a laughing Border Collie –

Thanks Dad!

With me on horseback

through Woodside trails

past homes of the rich,

parties at their pools,


tack rooms,

gardenias in the punch

kisses in the hay.

The Admiral’s fishpond

swallowed Billy

so we moved.

But not Skipper.

Kate’s Shepherd: fancier

Billy’s collie: all that was left.

I opened the ground-level night-deposit door

at Palo Alto’s pound

and sobbed to Skipper

“you’ll be fine.”




Twelve years married

three kids –

time for a dog.

Been putting it off for

 Air Force moves,

but the Indiana fields all around Purdue

were perfect for a bounding,

playful shepherd.

Tag hasn’t come home.


lured away for science by a

female in heat?

Al came home.

Then left for good


lured away by

Nancy in heat.



The Puppy


too much to handle.

Time to add a puppy to:

Three kids – 5, 7, 10

School – try to finish the degree

Work — after not for 12 years

Baths – Al used to give them

Dating – old at 32?

The day the puppy

trapped kids screaming

high on a fence

is the day he went

back to the pet store.




A German Shepherd puppy balances on my leg

as I drive her home through

Tampa’s heavy air

for Cindy’s 9th birthday.

Tasha came to nurture

as I, too, tried

had a mind of her own

as all of us did.

She’d trot first into garage late at night

when I’d hear strange noises –

my substance paranoia of that time.




“Can I keep him?  He’s a guy”

Pleads 13-year-old Kevin.

A houseful of women had

Reached its peak

the day he rode his bike

to the store for Tampax.

“I’ve named him Chetley, only 2 lived.”

A devil dog

Rich black lab-husky mix

He quickly trained

Tasha to nip his fleas.

Chetley raped, gobbled, jumped

in the dog-catcher’s truck.

A wild dog for my wild years

as I’d: sail Tampa Bay,

golf with gators near,

fly private to Bimini

Drive my MGB

always the top down

Once, mine was too.




Kids all in college

stood up for lunch

black & tan Cocker in a pet store

my treat to me –

Mothers’ Day replacement.

Truffles – sweet and calm

the men sweeter now

with the sweetest yet to come.

When Truffles was 6,

my business now broke,

“It’ll be OK” I stroked her


and again

“It’ll be OK”

“We’ll move back to Seattle

You’ll get to chase squirrels”

Then we did and she did – lovingly.

carless, we walked Capitol Hill

Pioneer Square

savored the city

I’d first met at 16.

When we met Richard

Truffles’ stubborn side showed:

“He’s not going to walk me”

Then he did.

“This won’t be his pillow”

Then it was.

“I won’t play with his new puppy”

Then she did.

Now — puppies after puppies –

and as each of them grew,

they wrestled and nipped

with the next.



*The Alaskan plane, a ’30s Stinson, was flown to the camp by bush pilot Maurice King, whose son Jim King resides at Chateau Retirement Community, Bothell, WA as do I.