My Dog Niles Minden
I would like you to meet Niles Minden. We call him Niles for short.
I'm not sure how old Niles is. Does it really matter, when it is love at first site? Anyway we were on our way to Genoa, Nevada and he was standing on a street corner in a town just outside of Genoa called Minden...hence his last name. Now Niles was with a gang of other dogs. He wasn't wearing any colors, but you could tell he was a gang member. It was the look that gave him away. See what I mean?

He was just sitting there not doing much of anything while all the other dogs were being horribly gang-like. You know, running around wild, chasing women, and scaring small children. (My kind of dog for sure!) He could have been the leader, but he won't say, even to this day. He always keeps a stiff upper lip. But Niles had this different sort of air about him, from the very start...... almost to the point of arrogance and snooty nobility. It really made him stand out from the others. He definitely had an attitude problem, but we fell in love with him anyway. I think his smug look grew on us.
So we decided to drag him away from his sorted life style. No more street corners for him! No more disgusting fire hydrant displays or sleeping with all the other dogs. He needed to clean up his act and we were there to help. I really feel like we have given back to humanity now.

His, then owner, wanted $15.00 to part with him. He had other dogs...... of course, but none as handsome as Niles, so we had to pay the full price due to his good looks and exuberant personality. I'm sure if we haggled with the owner we could have gotten him for $14.50 or maybe $13.95, but we decided the splurge was worth it and really didn't have a lot of time to waste on this sort of thing. After all we wanted to snatch him up before someone else did.

We named him Niles because this just seemed to suit him. We tried names like Ralph, Rover, Big Red, Blackie and Spot, but they didn't seem to fit very well.

Niles has been the only dog ever to ride in the van from hell. I mean, like EVER. So, you can see how very very special he is. He was so excited to be with us, that he didn't make a noise the whole way home. I know his containment of his feelings must have been hard on him.

Once here at his new home, he settled in quite nicely. He decided that he would contribute to the family by being the security dog. After all he had a reputation for being tough and mean.
Thus when he has nothing better to do, he guards the house. It is rather a dismal job for him though, because we live in one of the safest cities in America. I really think it has a lot to do with Niles though. He has a ferocious bark and really big sharp teeth! When he gets that pouty look on his face, like above, you can see his teeth. They are very scary, indeed. So, I'm sure Niles has helped Simi Valley, be one of the safest cities.

Niles likes to go on afternoon rides.
He loves the wind in his hair and the bugs in his teeth. The only problem is, is that he has become a little snobbish and refuses to ride in the van from hell anymore. So we have to drag out our "other" car. If we don't, he becomes testy and hard to live with. He then gives us that "I wouldn't be caught dead in the van from hell" look. Now you can see why we call him Niles. I told you it fit. Sometimes he likes to drive and other times he just wants to be the passenger. For those of you who might worry, don't. Niles has his own Hans devise for when he goes driving.

Although he can be quite the boorish snob, he is easy to feed.
He is not picky at all. Give him a good sized bone and he can make it last forever! He never makes a mess, so cleaning up after him is almost not necessary. And he doesn't seem to mind left overs. He does drool once in a while, but I think that is only when he is tired.

The only reason he gets tired is because he is always practicing his favorite dog trick. I'm sure it takes a lot of energy out of him. He sees how long he can sit in one place without moving. You know, he is sooooo good at this, that I can't even tell when he moves anymore. I mean you have to really look closely. He holds his breath and doesn't bat an eye. He is so good at this, that I have a friend who thought he was made of stone! LOL How funny.......made of stone.......LO
Niles isn't made of stone! He has a heart as big as gold. And a twinkle in his eye. See it? He has a sweet disposition and enjoys life to the max. Just look at that face! Underneath it all, he is a warm cuddly compassionate puppy. When he is out side, he loves to visit the garden. He sits real still, so he can smell the flowers and take in the fresh air. He won't even budge if a bee comes by. So you can see how kind he is to all forms of life.
And his very best friend is a frog.
We haven't named the frog yet.
Is this not the greatest frog in the world? He/she has been taking lessons from Niles. You can find great frogs like this at your local "Frogs R Us" store.

Don't get me wrong. Niles is not perfect. He does act up once in a while, and it has put him in the hot seat more than once.
Usually this only lasts for a while. No silly, those aren't real flames! That's an electric stove top...... Hey, don't yell at me for dog abuse! He got up there all by himself. Besides, we live in California and I will never be able to turn the stove on again. We won't be able to afford to.

When Niles isn't guarding the house, he is chasing bugs. But this is just for fun.
It's not uncommon to find bugs on a stick out here in the wild wild west.

And last but not least, here is Niles sleeping.
Puppies are always cute when they are frolicking about, but even cuter when they are asleep. Don't you think?

Well, guess what just happened? We went on one of our adventures. Have you ever heard of Buttonwillow, California? It is the cotton capitol of the San Joaquin Valley. It is just a little north, a lot west, of Bakersfield and is sort of one of the arm pits of the universe. There is cotton everywhere and when it is not in season, cows are. The aromas of the area are a delight. The fun part is trying to guess what they are. They seem to range from chemical fertilizers to noxious pesticides to toxic waste and of course some of natures best. Some are so strong you can taste test them. And some are so distinct that you will have noooooooooo problemo figuring out what they are!

Anyway, there is a race track out here in the middle of no mans land. It is loud and raucous and exciting. And if you are into auto racing, this is the place to be. It also has this little dinky town. It has a few motels, a few gas stations, all the junk food restaurants that are in existence and it has "Rodgers Produce, Gifts and Pottery". Now Rodger is this late middle aged goofy sort of fellow. He wears a straw brimmed hat, is unshaven, does not use garanimal tags to match his clothes and watches TV while he is at work. We are not quite sure if his deodorant was working or not. It was hard to tell with all those smells. But his store is like NO store I have ever seen before.
It is a little white adobe shack and sits on the edge of town. It is surrounded by a chain length fence. But oh, the wonders that are inside this fence! First you *get* to go past the flags of skulls, Harleys, Mexican flags, virgins of Guadalupe, Elvis, charging bulls and all sorts of wild and fantastic wall hangings. The patio part has the best selection of the tackiest, worst painted, worst crafted plaster of paris crap that you have ever seen! Man, I was in seventh heaven! My eyes were on sensory over load with visions of ugly that kept me at a pace that would make sure I didn't miss a thing. I just couldn't get enough. I was ecstatic, I was wild, I was out of control!
There were ferns and fauna everywhere! There were ducks, frogs, dogs, cats, crocodiles, deer, birds, turtles, pink flamingos, yes pink flamingos, armadillos, hippopotamus and oh so much more. I was grabbing things right and left! They were cheap!!!!! They were really ugly, and they were really cheap, and they were in your worst nightmares, but they were cheap!! Oh, how they were cheap.
I finally did calm myself down though and made a selection that was worthy of any professional shopper. I chose this wonderful green frog couple.
Are they not the greatest pair of frogs you have ever seen? They lovvvvvvvvvve each other. So I am giving them to my parents for Labor Day. We always give presents for Labor Day. It is almost as good as Christmas time.

My dad is the world's biggest and greatest frog collector. He doesn't know that yet though. But he will be and some little guardian angel type person is helping him along. He doesn't get the above, still nameless frog, though, because that is one of Niles' friends.
Now you can tell my parents like those frogs! Even though my dad is backing off and saying "Oh my god, those are so ugggggly" and my mom is saying under her breath "How can I accidentally break these?" can tell they are appreciative.

Now after going through Rodger's store several times and gazing upon all the wonderful kitsch, I was just dumbfounded on what else to buy. There were hula dancers, palm trees, brightly painted garish objects of all sorts, tea cups, fairies, angels, things with jungle prints, swans, piñatas, black velvet paintings, things that had bobbing heads and toucans, I mean you name it, they had it. Nothing went with anything else. It was amazing that this could happen. These items were piled high all over the shelves, on the floor and even hanging from the ceiling. And among all these wonderful god awful tacky things, there was produce. Apples, oranges, grapes, nuts, dried fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, I mean you had to touch it to see if it was real or Memorex! Well, I could have spent days there just being aw struck, but we did have to move on. But then out of the corner of my eye, an item leaped out at me! I actually heard it calling my name.

I froze on the spot. I couldn't believe my eyes! It was,...... it was,..... an off spring from Niles! A little tiny Niles, with wide open gazing eyes, and the cutest little smile. A miniature of my most prized possession. I couldn't leave without him. I tried, but I couldn't. My heart strings were being tugged on unmercifully. I HAD to have him! I went to pay Rodger and told him he had the worst junk I had ever seen and he had the worst taste of anyone I had ever met in the whole wide world.

He smiled kindly upon me as he took my 20 bucks.

And so now I would like to introduce you to Rodger Buttonwillow
How could I not get Rodger? We named him after his previous owner in honor of his wonderful store out in the middle of no where.

So please meet, Niles Minden and his protégé, Rodger Buttonwillow. Are they not as cute as a bug's ear?

2004 Update: I am sad to say that Rodger's Store has gone out of business. It will be a great loss to the world, I am sure.
And isn't it nice that Niles is willing to share his bone?

Say, before you go! We are having a new problem in our neighborhood. Maybe you can help us. We are being over ridden by man eating rats! They are on the Most Wanted List at the post office. This one ate one of my neighbors kids! I got these mug pictures as he was cleaning his teeth.
Wanted Jobba the Rat

The whole neighborhood is in an up roar over this. If you have a big ol' scary cat, let me know. I promise you Niles, and Rodger will not hurt him. Maybe you could just let me borrow him for awhile. Whadda ya think?
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Chapter One
Stuff About Me
Chapter Two Mountain
Men and Llamas
Chapter Three
Introducing El Blanco
Chapter Four
Off To Hollywood
Chapter Five
It's Beginning to Look A lot like Christmas
Chapter Six
The Day Before November 16th
Chapter Seven
My Neighbor
Chapter Eight
More of Him
Chapter Nine
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Chapter Ten
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Niles Minden
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