And finally, Z is for…

0430Wow!!! We made it! We reached the last day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge!! We reached the Zenith!! It seems like the month just Zoomed by! Some of the pets we met were a bit Zany, don’t you think? Some were filled with Zest and were Zippy-on-the-spot in protection of their humans. Some lived in Zoos and some had their own Zones throughout the globe. You already know what day this is—it’s “Z” Day!!!! It’s also the only Sunday post so I’m combining this post with a selfie!!!

For Z-Day, I have Zenit and Ziva to tell you about. Both are German Shepherds and working dogs in uniform.

In the beginning, Marine Cpl. Jose Armenta looked at his new canine partner, Zenit, as just a piece of Marine “equipment.” Zenit was a certified explosive-detection dog and wasn’t treated as a pet. After training they flew to Afghanistan where they led security patrols through the desert. One summer day they were searching for IEDs ahead of the platoon when Zenit froze. He had sniffed one out. Armenta marked the bomb for removal later and on they went. Then Zenit froze again four more times, each time finding another IED. As they walked on Armenta took a wrong step and hit a mine. He flew 20 feet across the desert. He survived but lost both legs above the knees. While Armenta went into the hospital to recover, Zenit was assigned a new handler. During his recovery, the Marine realized just how much he missed his partner and how important Zenit was to him. Zenit was no longer ‘just a piece of Marine equipment’, but a friend. It took some time but in 2012 Armenta was able to adopt the war dog when he retired. Now the two are never separated and Zenit is treated as the beloved pet and friend he is. Today the retired war dog lives in San Diego with two fur siblings, Boston terriers Oreo and Sassy, and Armenta, his wife and son. Now, instead of sniffing out IEDs, Zenit sniffs out balls and other toys during games of fetch with his family.

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Jose Armenta is profiled in the June issue of National Geographic’s cover story, “Hero Dogs.” He tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about his and Zenit’s life together in the Marines, and how civilian life has changed the German shepherd.


And last, but certainly not least, the final animal in our quest to learn about these wonderful and amazing animals this month, is Ziva. In Seattle, Washington, Ziva, aged 8, is famous as the “dog who saved Christmas.” A burglar had broken into a jewelry store before Christmas, 2013 and stole almost $8,000 in merchandise. Ziva and her partner, Officer Mark Wong, tracked down the suspect – Ziva sniffed him out hiding under a parked car. And thanks to Ziva almost 100% of the merchandise was recovered. Another arrest Ziva helped with was cornering 3 suspects who were stealing metal from a compressor. All three went to jail. Officer Wong also takes Ziva to area schools where she is a hit with the students. Ziva’s most recent success was on March 2, 2017 when a couple of teens broke into a Seattle home. The first suspect surrendered immediately upon seeing Ziva and the second tried to run away but wasn’t able to evade Ziva’s superior detection skills. Afterward, officers booked the 15-year-old into the King County Youth Service Center and the 18-year-old into the King County Jail for burglary.

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And, to be fair, there is one more Z dog – Zoe, who we found when researching Ziva. Zoe is (possibly) a chocolate Labrador retriever and another K9 with the Seattle Police but she is a Narcotics Detection Police Dog.  Zoe, age 8, has served with the Seattle Police Department for six years. Over the years, Zoe located numerous hidden compartments in vehicles, resulting in the seizures of narcotics and currency.0430 zoe


Well, that’s it for another year! I’ll do a wrap-up post tomorrow then I’m going to sleep for 5 days! (not really!) Thank you for checking us out each day during our A to Z journey. We appreciate you and enjoyed bringing you some little tidbits of information to broaden your horizon.

Love y’all from A to Z!



Y is for …

0429artHappY “Y” daY! whY is it a happY daY???? Because there’s just “Z” left after this and another marathon of posting will end! I’ve had fun, but I have to admit I’m tired!!! “Y” was a tough one – I wasn’t able to find mY subject until more than half-waY through April! But I kept looking and eventuallY found an amazing Yorkshire terrier named Smoky!

World War II had a lot of war dogs in service and we’ve already learned about Judy who served in the British army but the United States Army had their own famous dog. A little 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier named Smoky. She weighed 4 pounds and was 7 inches tall and, according to Wikipedia, “is credited with beginning a renewal of interest in the once obscure” terrier breed.0429 yorkie smoky

Smoky was found by an American soldier in February 1944 in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. The soldier figured she was an abandoned Japanese pet and sold her to Corporal William A. Wynne for the price of $6.44 so he could get back into a poker game.0429 yorkie smoky d For the next two years, she accompanied Wynne on treks through the jungle and combat flights in the Pacific. Even though she wasn’t an official war dog and shared Wynne’s C-Rations, she remained healthy in spite of the primitive conditions in which the soldiers were living. Smoky also survived 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions as well as a typhoon at Okinawa.0429 yorkie smoky f
During precious time off, Smoky was taught a lot of tricks by Wynne and entertained troops in hospitals from Australia to Korea. She is the first therapy dog of record. She first served as a therapy dog in July 1944 at the 233rd Station Hospital in New Guinea. She went with the nurses as they made their rounds, giving love and comfort to the patients. She even spent 5 nights sleeping in Wynne’s hospital bed! After the war, Smoky continued working as a therapy dog for 12 years.0429 yorkie smoky c

0429 yorkie smoky b


On February 21, 1957, Smoky passed away at the approximate age of 14. She was buried in a WWII .30 caliber ammo box in the Cleveland Metroparks, Rocky River Reservation in Lakewood, Ohio. Almost 50 years later, on Veterans Day in November 2005, a bronze life-size sculpture of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet, atop a two-ton blue granite base, was unveiled there. It is placed above the very spot that Smoky was laid at her final resting place. The monument is dedicated to “Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and the Dogs of All Wars”.0429 yorkie smoky g

What a dog!!! Even as an-always-superior cat, I have to admit Smoky’s service impressed me!0429 yorkie smoky e


Since today is also Caturday Art, I thought I would lay a wreath at her monument/burial site.smoky


Thank you once again for joining me on our journey! Tomorrow is Sunday and April 30, which means, the final post of the month – it’s “Z” day!! I hope you are able to come back at least one more time!!! (I will be doing a ‘wrap-up’ post on Monday or Tuesday.)

goodbYe for now, love, TobY!!!


X is for …

0428Happy Friday everybody!!!!! Three days to go and that’ll be she wrote for this year’s Blogging A to Z Challenge! The last few letters are more difficult to get through than the rest of them and “X” is no exception. I searched and searched and finally found an “X” animal of note! Today, X is for Xanto

Xanto is a German Shepherd police dog that loves his job. 0428 xanto aHe is so protective of his partner, Deputy Kristen Garrett, that he is able to subdue suspects just by barking and bouncing around in the back of the police car, shaking it violently. The bad guys get a look at what Xanto is doing inside the car and they give up pretty quickly. The shepherd is so excited about working that he will push Kristen out of the way so he can start sniffing and searching.0428 xanto

Deputy Garrett, from Decatur, Alabama, adopted Xanto from Lackland Air Force Base and in 2015 had worked with him for 8 years.0428 xanto aa At 11-years-old now (in 2015) he was ready to retire. During his decade of work, he’s tracked Alzheimer’s patients and children. He only had to physically apprehend one subject in all those years – the rest he intimidated into giving up. 0428 xanto bXanto was inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame in 2010 and is the only law enforcement animal to earn that status (at least as of 2015).

0428 xanto cWell done Xanto! We hope he has a long and happy retirement after all the years of putting his life in danger for his partner and the citizens of Decatur!

Well I guess X marks the spot here where it’s time to do Friday Fill-ins!! As always, my answers are in Orange and mom’s are in Pink!

1. A book I would like to see made into a movie is the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. I would like to see Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg made into a movie. It would be so fun!!

2. If I could afford a billboard, it would say “Adopt an Orange Cat!!!”  My billboard would say “Adopt a Shelter or Foster Cat!” or “Homeless kitties need YOU!” with a cat-Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer. 


3. I have a hard time saying no to fresh water flowing in the bathroom sink. I have a hard time going to bed every night. I’m a night owl with an early bird job. 

4. I really enjoy people-tuna but mom doesn’t serve it to me all that often (bad momma!) I really enjoy my days off when I don’t have anywhere to go and nothing important to do. I love to putter. And nap. And cuddle my kitties.


ellen_cat_badge_2-1 Take a look at other Fill-ins by going HERE and HERE! As always thanks Miss Ellen and McGuffy for hosting!!! And congrats on almost a whole year of fill-ins! It’s been a lot of fun!
Thanks for stopping bY – I’ll be back tomorrow with CaturdaY Art and it’s “Y” daY!! See You then!!!

I’ll be making my X-traordinary and X-special X-it now!!! XoXoXo, Toby


W is for…

0427Welcome to “W” Day!! Can you believe it’s been almost a Whole month already? Time certainly flies When you’re having fun!! Well, I have tWo critters for you, White elephants and Wilberforce!


White elephants were revered in Siam (now known as Thailand) as a lord or king. King Mongut of Siam received the gift of a white elephant in 1854. The elephant was treated very well – he lived in the king’s palace, wore gold rings on his tusks as well as golden chains and a gold crown. He also wore a special cloak of purple velvet with scarlet and gold fringe. This very special elephant had important officials, attendants and slaves to care for him. Wow! I wouldn’t have minded being a white elephant!

0427 White_Elephant0427 White-Elephant-Amarapura-myanmar


My next “W” is Wilberforce, the No. 10 Downing Street cat, who from 1973-1986 presided over the official London residence of the Prime Minister of England. Shortly after his arrival the resident mice ran for safer quarters and his job as official mouser was over. But he remained at 10 Downing through 4 different prime ministers, often basking in the sun on the front steps. Fans were unable to pet him because of security concerns but Wilberforce received bundles of Christmas cards throughout his life. 0427 10 downing wilberforce
There have been many 10 Downing Street cats but none seemed to catch the public’s attention the way Wilberforce did!


Here’s a list of the other Downing Street cats with photos if they’re available (if I got any wrong, don’t blame me, blame Wikipedia!):

Treasury Bill 1924 Prime Minister: Ramsay MacDonald

Peter 1929-1946 Prime Ministers: Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee

Munich Mouser 1937–40, 1943 Prime Ministers: Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill

Nelson 1940 Prime Minister: Winston Churchill

Peter 1941–46 Prime Ministers: Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee

Peter II 1946 Prime Minister: Clement Attlee

Peter III 1946-1964 Prime Ministers: Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home

Peta 1964-1976 Prime Ministers: Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath

Wilberforce 1973-1988 Prime Ministers: Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher

Humphrey 1989-1997 Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair


Sybil 2007-2009 Prime Minister: Gordon Brown0427 ten downing sybil


Larry 2011-Current Prime Ministers: David Cameron, Theresa May

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Freya 2012-2014 Prime Minister: David Cameron0427 ten downing freya


I also have to give a shout-out to Gladstone, he’s the Chief Mouser at Her Majesty’s Treasury Office.0427 ten downing gladstone


Also of interest is Palmerston who is the Chief Mouser at the Finance Office. He was recruited from the Battersea Cat and Dogs Home at the age of one in 2016 (he recently celebrated his 2nd birthday) and in the past year has brought home 26 mice and a large rat. His minders say that’s an estimate because he also eats what he catches! Palmerston also has a Twitter following and whenever foreign diplomats are in the office many of them want to meet him and have their photo taken with him. 0427 ten downing palmerstonWith all these fans, however, he has at least one enemy. Down the street from where his home is lives Larry, the #10 Downing Street mouser. The two of them have been caught on film fighting several times. I guess each wants to be the Alpha cat of government service! Here is a link to a recent news article about him that includes a short video: Go HERE.

That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed “W” day! I’ll be back tomorrow with “X”!

Cheerio! Toby

V is for …

0426 aHappy Wednesday everyone! Because today’s letter is “V” Toby called me up and asked if I would mind hosting today’s post. Of course, I said “Yes!” So today “V” is for Vashka.
There’s not a lot of information on Vashka. She was supposedly a Russian Blue who belonged to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. That’s it. That’s all I have!

Russian blues were first called the Archangel cat because tradition holds that sailors first brought the cats to Western Europe in the 1860s from the Russian port of Archangelsk on the White Sea. “Many believe the Russian Blue is a natural breed originating from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia, where the long winters developed a cat with a dense, plush coat. Rumors also abound that the Russian Blue breed descended from the cats kept by the Russian Czars. Assuming the Russian Blue did migrate from northern Russia, it was likely via ship to Great Britain and northern Europe in the mid 1860s.” (The Cat Fanciers’ Association. 11 October 2013.)

0426 Nyan cat meme The cat icon Nyan was named after a Russian blue owned by the artist.

0426 Two Lumps Two Lumps comic strip has cats that are Russian Blues.

0426 bOf course, you can figure out why Toby asked me to host today – I’m not a Russian Blue, but I can pretend!! Tomorrow is “W” day and Toby will be back. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime!

Love and Archangel kisses, Jack