I'd like to tell you a funny story about Sweetie (Sweet Tart). The kids' elementary school decided to hold a fundraiser for the local Animal Shelter. There were different categories, and each category cost one dollar to enter. One category was to submit a picture of your dog, which of course we did. (Everyone was a winner.) The second category was the Pawsitively Tricky category, where your dog does a trick. Libby (our kindergartener) decided she wanted to enter with Sweetie. Her trick? Libby has discovered that if she scratches Sweetie's tummy her hind leg will shake. So Libby went up in front of everyone, with Sweetie on the leash. Of course, Libby is 38 pounds and Sweetie is probably 85 now. They wrapped the leash around the library lady, who was running the show, and they all got tangled. It was a fiasco. Then I went up there and got Sweetie to sit, at which point Libby jumped into action and started scratching her tummy. On cue, the hind leg started thumping up and down, and the crowd cheered! Of course, Libby thinks our dog is the only dog in the world who can do this amazing trick! It was hysterical.

But there's more. Every dog that competed got a prize and a ribbon that says, "Top Dog." Libby went in the school to pick out a prize. She came out with a dog sweater, size small! I just laughed. With all that fur, Sweetie would be tortured if we put a dog sweater on her, especially size small! So we went in and exchanged it for some doggie treats, which were promptly inhaled. It was a wonderful day!

Shannon, Steamboat Springs, CO

URBAN BERNERS: I have three girls right now. Clover is 9 and Cindy is just a wee bit over two. I also have wanta be berner, rescue Willow, who is four and may be spaniel and hound mix. She has the most perfect berner markings but her bark and coat are a little off. We live in FL and when its hot, everyone runs outside for their business and to check the property then head inside for the fan and AC. It's hard for us to get much exercise in the summer months but we get up early or walk late if the humidity is down.

We had a lot of rain (28 inches) in April and everything that was in the nearby swamp is now trying to live in my yard on higher ground. My dogs encountered their first rat last week! Clover wanted no part of it. Cindy and Willow tore up my flower bed rat hunting one night. They flushed the beast right toward me! I ran inside and watched the poor rat run across the patio into the safety of the dark yard. Those goofy girls missed the escape and continued the hunt for several minutes until they were satisfied that the creature had gone somewhere else. I have read on the L that it's not uncommon for farm berners to catch and eat varmints but my city girls proved to me they are just that - urban berners

Cindy is my two yr old and just when I thought she had received her brains, she decided to take a running roll into the worse stuff I have ever smelled! So, a bath and blow dry after ten pm one night, she was finally clean enough to go in the house! Tonight, she decided to eat a little poop. My remedy for that is a mouth full of baking soda -- It works!

Cindy loves to go to the vet. The other day she got loose from the tech and started running all over the place -- the entire staff attempted to catch her. Of course, this was a delightful game and as I laughed, she milked it for all it was worth.

She loves new toys! I like to buy her cheap baby toys w no beans in the bottom or plastic eyes. She will carry it around and chew and toss it and eventually give it to me. She knows what is hers and what is mine, until I give her free roam in the house. Then, she decides to see what she can find that is NOT hers. So, now a doggie gate is in front of the study door and the counter is empty when I leave on very short errands.

Recently, she developed an interest in my mail. She takes it into the den and shreds it! Luckly, I always put the bills in a safe place right off the bat. I am finding more paw prints than I would like on my white counter top. I have tried the mouse traps covered with a sheet and that failed. So, I just decided to keep a tidy kitchen. She also reads any newpaper she can get her teeth in. I swear, she has a paper fetish. Any paper product is hers, if she can get to it. Long ago, the toilet paper was removed and hidden along with all the kleenex.

Cindy and Willow have game they play in the AM to see who can get outside the fastest to chase away any slow birds. Again, my urban girls wouldn't know what to do if they caught one. One animal Cindy can catch is an evening toad (non-poisonous type). You would think after two years of toads sports they would not be on her to-do list but no, she paws them to the point of toad exhaustion, then puts them in her mouth. She reminds me of a cartoon charater when she spits it out with indignation and disgust and makes the foulist and funniest face. By now the poor toad is dead, or playing dead, and she is no longer interested.

Urban berners...

Karen , Pensacola, FL More of Cindy's adventures