Lucky Seven


My sweet ray of sunshine, Miss Panda Bear, turns 7 today. Well, as a rescue, we aren't entirely sure of her exact birthday, but it appears that this is the likely day.

Our family had a dog when I was very young, but, in reality, Panda is my first. I would have sworn, up and down, that I did not have it in me to be a dog person, before I met her. I thought of dogs as being drooly, stinky, needy and loud.

When Leo and Panda met for the first time.

Perhaps I was tainted by my experience with dogs in my neighborhood. Most were allowed to roam freely about our cul-de-sac, and were often poorly mannered and pushy. Others were tied up outside, year round, and spent their days barking and lunging at passersby.

Panda's first few weeks at home. She could be very silly.

In my teens, some of my closest friends had dogs, but almost never the sort with which the family felt inclined to spend long hours. These dogs were appreciated, well cared for and content dogs, but they weren't ever taken on hikes, or, for that matter, even long walks. They didn't sit with their people and get pet while everyone watched TV, they tended to just be high energy distractions. There were exceptions, but they were rare.

Panda's first trip to the beach.

So when Leo and I moved in together and he said that his first goal would be to find a place that allowed pets and get a dog, I felt a certain trepidation.

With those sweet eyes, she could have gotten away with being much more poorly behaved.

I don't think we had lived in LA for more than a few days before my best friend and animal trainer extraordinaire, was telling us about a sweet 9 month old Border Collie mix who needed a home. She was one of an accidental litter of puppies born in December, who had been used in a commercial. The owner decided he didn't want them back so the training company agreed to place them. The entire littler, who looked mostly like cattle dogs, were quickly adopted out. The lone straggler was a timid, and gentle girl named Houston, who looked far more Border Collie like than her siblings.

Panda loves to be picked up and held like this.

Leo and I met Houston and she clung to Leo immediately, which was incredibly out of character for her. We paid the dollar adoption fee, and brought her home that night.

She didn't pee for almost a day. I woke up every couple hours, that night, to give her another shot at it, to no avail.

I wasn't sure what we had gotten ourselves into.

Houston, now Panda, had just been spayed a week before and could lie on her back for hours getting belly rubs, to dull the itch of her hair growing back, but as soon as we stopped, she'd duck under the coffee table or bed and hide from the sounds of kids playing outside.

Panda's always been a fast learner.

Soon, she started to open up at home, becoming a snuggly, loving and affectionate girl, as well as a keen learner and surprisingly well behaved addition to the household. Still, leaving the house was an exercise in frustration. Panda would attempt to drag us, bodily, back home, while we would endeavor to find positive experiences for her to help her overcome her fears. We could ask her to sit, and she would, but her whole body would quake with fear and she'd drool incessantly until we would bring her home. There wasn't a treat in the world that made the experience fun for her.

You can't keep this girl out of the water

It wasn't until we brought her to the ocean, that we saw her full potential. At home, the distant hum of airplanes in the sky, would send Panda into a drooling, quivering trance, but at the beach the roar of waves crashing upon the shore, was a symphony for her. She was in her element. We began to make beach trips a regular event for her and the result was a happier dog at home.

At seven, Panda seems more content and happy than she ever was as a younger pup. Even though her black spots are becoming speckled with white hairs and her coat has grown less silky and more fluffy, I still see that thoughtful gleam in her eyes and thirst for adventure.

Seven? She doesn't look a day over three.

Each year with Panda, continues to be a gift. Here's hoping we have many many more ahead.

Happy birthday, little girl.


What a sweet post! Happy birthday, Panda girl, and here's to many more.

(The hat and balloon are SO CUTE!)

Happy Birthday Panda!!

It is so refreshing to see people treat their dogs so wonderfully.

What a sweet story! I'm so glad you found each other. Happy birthday, Panda!

Aww happy birthday, Panda! Thanks for the lovely Panda story, Marnie!

Happy Birthday Panda -- you are a very lucky girl to have found such a spectacular home.

Aw! Happy birthday to Panda! I never would have guessed that she started out so timid. She always seems so outgoing and active, I just presumed she had always been that way!

Happy Birthday, Panda! I love hearing the story of how you got to your family. You're all so lucky to have each other. (My mom wants me to tell your mom to give you a big belly rub for her.) Have a great b-day! xo- Your soulmate from afar, Dakota PS: Nice party hat!

Have a very happy birthday Panda!

Happy birthday, Panda! I've loved reading about Panda for years now. She has the most expressive face and her pictures always make me smile. Give her lots and lots of belly rubs and treats today!

Happy birthday Panda!! I love all the pictures of her :)

what a sweet and loving post. happy birthday panda, oh look there she is wearing her party hat...smmooch


That is such a sweet loving post. It brought a tear to my eye! Lucky Panda and lucky you.....she's a sweetheart!

Panda found the perfect people to love and look after her. The best dogs choose US.

Happy birthday, Panda! Good health and long life to ye, lass!

Happy 7th Birthday Panda! What a wonderful story of how she found her home! I'm so glad that she's part of such a loving family.

Happy Birthday Panda! My dog had similar anxieties when we first adopted him, including not peeing, but then we found a place where he could run and run in safety and he burnt off his anxiety. Now when we take him out he will run flat most days, just because it makes him happy. And of course, seeing him so full of joy just from being makes me happy too.

Awww...Happy birthday sweet Panda...
don't tell your momie but as much as I love her knitting, when I first discovered her blog it was pictures and stories of you that kept me checking back very frequently...just to see your sweet face. (not to say the knitting and all isn't fab ) !!

happy birthday, panda!!! she is so lucky to have such a wonderful and loving family!

what a wonderful birthday post for her, i wish she could read it....i loved hearing about her early days, who would have thought that beautiful girl in your pics was once so shy. she must be under a water sign. smiles to panda, give her a rub from us.

Happy Birthday Panda -
Marnie, I could cry - how can I love a dog so much ?


Happy birthday to that Panda girl! Where in LA were you able to take her to a beach?

What a sweet, happy pup! Such a sweet face. How luck you are to have each other. My dog is starting to show his age at 13 (he's a large breed dog). It's so hard to watch and hard to know I'll be letting him go soon. Does my heart good to read this post. :)

awe Happy BDAY!

Thanks so much for sharing Panda's story! We have a dog that came to us at around age 6 with some insecurities and hangups, too. Lots of love has made a huge difference for our Penny, just like you experienced with Panda.

I love how the ocean was therapeutic for Panda. Kudos to you and Leo for loving her, and working with her!

Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing--
Panda is a very lucky pooch!! Happy Birthday!:)

Beautiful story!! Thanks for sharing-
Panda is a very lucky pooch!
Happy Birthday!:)

Happy birthday Panda! And your mum and dad are so lucky to have found you. We rescue dogs here a lot,and it is so wonderful to see them learn that they are now safe and loved. You are safe and loved, Panda, you and Thea. You're a lucky girlie. :O) Hugs to you from me and my crew, Tobie, Sianidh, Angus, Eloise, Clementine and Moo!

Okay, I was going to leave a comment anyway for that sweet, loving post about a wonderful dog, but, oh! The hat and balloon! It really IS a party! Happy birthday, Panda!

A very Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Happy birthday, Panda! I hope you get spoiled with many new toys!

What a wonderful post! I can't believe Panda was once a shy, fearful, girl, I think back to where you posted about her jumping off that cliff that was like 10 panda units high! Happy Birthday Panda!

Lots of birthday belly rubs for Panda. And a little ovation for her two-leggers who gave her such a wonderful home.

Marnie, I first started reading your blog for the terrific knitting, but now I find myself hoping that each new post will include some Panda and Thea news as well.

Thanks for a beautiful post about a beautiful girl.

What a sweet, sweet story about a sweet, sweet girl. She also is a real beauty. How lucky that you found each other. I am amazed that she wasn't adopted first with her good looks!

Happy birthday, sweet little Panda! Thanks for sharing, Marnie!

Happy Belated Birthday Panda!!

Lovely touching post :).
Happy birthday, sweetie!

Happy Belated Birthday Panda. My little Robin turned one on December 15th.

Happy Birthday Panda!
My little Robin turned one on December 15th.

I grew up in a home where dogs and cats were our companions; we kept them safe and happy, they gave us complete trust, unconditional love and great joy. The look on Panda’s face says she has found this in your home.

I'm just getting to reading this after days of panel. I love Panda's story - so sweet! She is a very good little girl, not at all the terror our Zosia was in the beginning. I love her party hat and balloon in the comments, too. By the way, she is the same vintage as Townes and Tuna, who turn 7 around the same time.

xox, J

P.S. Hot picture of the Leo, too! He has eyelashes that look like they go on for miles!

Happy birthday Panda girl!

Happy Birthday Panda!
Love from your friend,

Wow, this post made me cry...
Its so amazingly clear how much you love your sweet Panda girl. Your a wonderful doggie mommy to her...she is so lucky to have you.

Happy Birthday Sweet Panda!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marnie published on December 20, 2007 5:54 AM.

A weekend of goodily goodness was the previous entry in this blog.

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