Monday, December 31, 2012

Our lessons

As we leave 2012 behind, I would love to know the greatest lessons you have learned from your animals. I am still a toddler in this walk, but have learned so much through the years, from humans and those who wear fur, feathers and many other "coats."

I remember a boss in the Dallas area who told me he didn't feel his day was complete unless and until he had learned one new thing each day. Isn't that a wonderful way to go through life?

My two biggest lessons (and ones I am still learning, believe me):
1. Slow down
2. Be present

What about you?

A different kind of resolution (for me, at least)

I have always spent the end of the old year/beginning of the new year focused on time wasted, goals unaccomplished, what I could have done better and didn't. Today, my only goal is to not do that anymore!

Seriously, in the new year I want to focus on this -

Thankful for the rain today - we need it so badly;
the wet dogs - eh, not so much

and the other faces in my household who are so dear to me. I have a strong feeling that if I can keep my focus and my intent strong, if I can really SEE what and who is in front of me at all times, then I will have accomplished the important "stuff" and the rest of my goals and wants will fall into place.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How does she DO THAT?

For the past five days or so, I have slept on the living room sofa. I have a cold and it's just easier to breathe when I'm in a more upright position. So explain to me how Carson, who sleeps in her crate, in my room, with the door closed, KNOWS when I wake up. Not when I get up, or even when I turn from one side to another. She seems to know when I open my eyes - even before then!

Now, it could be that I subconsciously hear her stirring in her crate and wake up. But it sure doesn't feel that way from where I'm sleeping. It feels kind of creepy, like the little squirt is in my head and knows what is going on even as it's happening.

There's a scary thought: A mind-reading Welsh Terrier. Be afraid, be very afraid.

My greatest teachers - a look back

Dogs have always been a part of my life, even though I didn't always fully recognize the fact. We had multiple dogs when I was a child - always "outside" dogs, once inherited with a house we bought or often brought home by my younger brother. If the weather was particularly cold, we would bring them inside but they were rarely comfortable there, standing by the door, anxious to return to their own part of our universe. Most of these dogs were terrier-mixes of some sort, although there was a blond cocker. Trixie, Taffy (the cocker), Missy, Shorty - they were just always there. Even in the years since I left home there has always been a dog at my parents' home. I learned well.

And so dogs became a part of my life as an adult and still I didn't realize the connection. Even so, their lessons were constant and lasting.

Mattie Rae. My Airedale. She came to us as a 14 month old youngster, having spent most of her days crated. She was sensitive and a quick learner. She was also stoic and a good teacher. Once, when the children had pushed a "final" button, Mattie calmly stepped between them and me. She never moved, she never flinched. But she calmly looked at me and stood her ground when I would have erupted, as if to remind me to take the time and space to calm myself. Mattie never thought of herself; she always tried to make life simpler. Even when she went to the Rainbow Bridge, 13+ years old and battling lymphoma, she waited until she was at the vet's office and then passed on during the night. I will never forgive myself for not being with her, although I know in my heart it was to save me the anguish of seeing her slip away. Her gift, however, was to visit me in my sleep that morning, to run the fields of my mind as I took a walk, and to send a beautiful red dragonfly so I would know that while change is inevitable, re-birth and growth are always available to us. She was indeed the greatest of terriers.

Blue Monster Max. My first Welsh and my personal introduction to puppy mills. Max was born on January 1, 1992 and lived up to his name admirably! My son was born in December of the same year and so felt a special tie to Max. It was in trying to give Max a better quality of life, health-wise, that I first discovered alternative/natural healing, bodywork, and all the associated paths I have traveled in the years since. Without Max, well, the path would certainly have been different.

Hollis Haven's Brodrick (Brody). I will never forget traveling with my son to Pine Bluff (AR) for a dog show on a cold February weekend. He had been devastated at losing Max, his first such loss. A dear friend arranged for us to bring home an 8-month old Welsh Terrier, although my son didn't realize that is why we were making the trip. On Saturday morning she plopped Brody on a grooming table and, with a crowd of people around, ask my son if he wanted to take him home. The look on his face makes me cry even now, more than ten years later! Brody became my sidekick, however, although he loved both the children. Without him, I am not sure I would have survived the divorce years. In hindsight, I wonder how much of his health mirrored my own. I wonder if he took on some of the challenges that would have done me in completely. I do know we lost him far too soon, only six months after his ninth birthday. His small body simply could not take any more health setbacks. And the lessons I learned from Max - to well and truly ask and trust my dog and to never allow your own guilt and wants to overshadow their suffering and wellbeing - meant I had to stop fighting and allow him to go.

Sully is the rescue I mentioned in yesterday's post. Sully reminded me that every dog cannot be saved, by sheer force of will or otherwise. As I was thinking through this writing I remembered all the times he asserted his authority, sitting next to my face on my bed. Sully had a lot of good in him, but the demons were stronger.

Sailaways Blue Norther (Carson). The light of my life. Brody's health concerns and illnesses were hard on all of us. When a friend called me to offer one of a two-girl litter - Kit and Carson. Carson, she said, was the gentlest of the "evil twins," and she knew we needed a respite from having had two high-maintenance Welsh Terriers in our home over the years. Carson is sheer joy and happiness, constant motion (she loves to spin like a top - always in a counterclockwise direction!). She is a destructo-dog, chewing up anything and everything with a speed nearly impossible to comprehend. She rarely stops until she is exhausted - and it takes a lot to exhaust her. She tries (not always patiently) to remind me daily to slow down and appreciate the here and now.

Marley arrived in the weeks after Carson came to live with us. As I mentioned yesterday, he stole our hearts and always has a place in our home. There have been so many rescues over the years who also had lessons and wisdom to offer. I was rarely listening, particularly in the early days. But I think back on them now and realize each of them had a gift they left with me, and they were willing to entrust that gift to me until I was willing or able to open and learn from it. I give them my heartfelt thanks now and every day.

This year, during the cold dark days between Christmas and the New Year, I have chosen to reflect and remember all the dogs whose paw prints have left their marks, to thank them for their gifts and to incorporate their teachings into my plans for the future.

Carson gives love freely and often. I am thankful
to be a frequent recipient!

A rare still moment - but she always makes us laugh.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Still thankful

Hard as it is for me to believe, my "baby" will graduate from high school in just a few months. Bless her heart, she is far too much like her mother - stubborn, hard-headed, independent. It is hard for her to ask for help and even harder for her to accept it. I adore her with every fiber of my being!

She is also the peace maker - concerned that her brother and I clash so often. She doesn't want to make waves and is tightly-wrapped, always in control. These are not always good qualities, as she tries so hard to not make waves. I am not proud to have contributed to these qualities but hope we can - together - soften the edges in the short time we have left together.

My daughter can do anything she sets her mind to; I have seen this as she has grown. She has pulled herself together when it would have been easier to crumble when she was no longer the focus of her father's attention. She has faced criticism and disbelief to become not only a damned fine percussionist, but a talented marching snare drummer and a two-year drum line section leader. She has a heart of gold and a will of steel.

Two years ago, a rescue dog we were fostering attacked her on a cold Sunday night in February. She calmly called me for help and then begged me not to put him down (I did). We still mourn Sully and we both still carry the physical scars of his final attack. She is strong and she is beautiful and she is committed to helping others, regardless of species.

A year ago, we brought home another rescue boy. Named Jacob Marley for the holiday season, he wiggled and snuggled his way into our hearts. By summer's end, we knew he was here to stay. He sleeps nightly on my daughter's bed, taking up as much or more space than she takes up; he is her special protector, much as Blue protects her brother.

"A girl and her dog."
This Christmas season, I want to tell her "thank you" - for being my child, for gracing me with her life and laughter and love. And for showing me each and every day what it means to be strong and feminine and a woman of character. It has been a wild ride thus far but my children and dogs keep me grounded. And they are teaching me to live in and appreciate the present for the gift it is (although I am admittedly a very slow learner!).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas thankfulness

We spent a relatively quiet Christmas Day with the kids and the dogs and my parents. My son and I agreed that even though it's been eight years, we are all still adjusting to our new definition of family, post-divorce. For him, "family" just doesn't have the same meaning when he has to divide his time and thoughts between households. And I am, at the moment, stressed out at the thought of the children getting on the somewhat icy roads to travel from here to the Dallas (TX) area to spend the next week with their father. I am obsessively checking road conditions and praying the temperatures keep inching higher. Roads are pretty much normal here, but are more icy and treacherous south of Oklahoma City and into north Texas.

Yesterday, however, we managed to live in the present (perfect for Christmas, don't you think?). I am so very thankful to have both my parents with us - they are 90 and 91, so it is a special blessing - and we had a joyful celebration full of conversation, food and some NBA basketball. Before opening gifts, however, I wanted to take pictures of the children with their dogs. I present the loves of my life and my reason for being today and tomorrow:

Post-wrestling match on Christmas morning

The merriest of Christmases ...
My goal for the coming year is to help us all find a comfortable meaning for family, to relax into that and to consciously be what one another needs. My children have spoken clearly that this is what they need from me, as opposed to working more and being home less. So that is what we will do. Pray for us!

Tomorrow: A girl and her terrier and how being the quiet child makes it hard to be noticed!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

May all your wishes come true, to day and always. We had a wonderful day. It was actually a rocky beginning, but I believe we finished strong and, I hope, we laid a strong foundation for the future. I hope for each of us a bright and brilliant future, living in the present while working towards an even more amazing future.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pets are for a lifetime ...

Animals are forever, not just for Christmas. Please don't give them as gifts - this year or ever. Thanks!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What do dogs understand?

Yesterday morning I received the following text from a friend who has two Welsh Terriers:

"I tell [dog] that [son] is coming. He trots over to the only window where he can see the street. Looks out, wags his stubby tail. Looks back at me, then settles in to wait." Nearly eight hours later I checked in to ask if he was still in his spot, waiting. The answer came: "Yup."

This story would be even more impressive if I could tell you he didn't move the spot all day. He did, but only for short intervals. And he returned to his post, waiting patiently until low woods signaled the arrival of this woman's son.

Shortly after I read the first text, I was sitting at my desk in the dining room. I heard my daughter's door open and remarked to Blue, who was sitting beside me, "You'll need to go to your room. Marley needs to go outside." I didn't turn my head or even speak in anything but a low monotone (the result of an unfortunate cold and stuffy nose). But Blue clambered to his feet as I finished my remark, trotted to his room and on into his crate, where he turned around and lay down. Perhaps it was the sound of my daughter's door opening. Perhaps not.

So, for those who would argue dogs cannot understand what we say, I beg to differ. Yes, I based my conclusions on anecdotal evidence and a sample of two. So be it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Poor baby!

Yesterday got away from me. One of the reasons was we discovered Blue had been hiding a secret under his thick, heavy, beautiful coat - a HUGE hot spot.

So off to the vet he went. He came home with a large shaved area and he has been creeping around the edges of rooms ever since! He is so self-conscious; bless his heart.

Here's a quick shot of the area, just in front of his tail. My son's job now is to put the spray treatment on the area twice a day and then make sure he doesn't lick it off. I think it could become a temporary full time job ...

Poor Blue
For the next few days, I am going to focus on those for whom I am most thankful - my children and my dogs. I hope to get pictures of all in front of the tree. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Follow My Lead, by Carol Quinn

More than a year ago, I read a book that resonated with me on so many levels. The author had a background in public relations, she was a single parent AND she had dogs. There were differences, of course. She ran agility. We don't (not sure my knees and ankle would hold up!). She has Rhodesian Ridgebacks, not terriers. She's a successful writer in California. I'm ... not. Nor have I had a live-in love interest (or any romantic relationships since my divorce).

I visited her website, "liked" her Facebook page and began following her on Twitter. I knew I liked her writing style and I felt she was saying some important things about deepening our relationships with the animals in our lives. Imagine my happy surprise when she followed me back on Twitter!

It was even more exciting last week when she sent me a Twitter message asking if I would consider writing a review for her book on Amazon. Okay, exciting and terrifying. Here was an author I admire, asking me to commit to (virtual) paper my thoughts about her book, thoughts that could potentially influences purchases. Yikes.

But I did it. I put my thoughts and my writing "out there" to a wider market than I have written to in years. And, since most of my years in p.r. were spent writing for someone else's byline, or anonymously, this was one of the first times my writing - with my own name - had the potential to reach so many.

I just got the loveliest note from Ms. Quinn, thanking me for the review and saying she was going to "share it around." How awesome is that?

Below is what I wrote for the book Follow My Lead: What Training My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Love and Happiness, by Carol Quinn (ISBN-13 978-1580053709, published by Seal Press, 2011). I highly recommend it for any and all the dog lovers in your life!

I read Carol Quinn's book after the bright cover and melting brown eyes of the dogs on the cover drew me in. And, from the first, I was nodding my head in agreement, highlighting passages, turning down pages and making notes in the margins. Quinn does an excellent job of looking beneath the surface, examining both humans and canines, their differences, their bonds, and her relationships with each.

I found myself looking at many of my own personal and professional challenges through her lens of life with her dogs - gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I cringed at the often harsh tone and criticisms of their agility instructor while marveling at how she could relate canine behavior and reinforcement training to humans. I found myself hoping that screenplays and books would sell, that love would be forever and that - for one brief moment - the planets would align for both humans and dogs. And they do, but not always as was planned or expected.

In agility terminology, Carol Quinn hit all the contact points for me with her book. The messages, the lessons she learned from her dogs, she generously shares with the reader. And she reminds us that, for some of us, it is "dog wisdom we were seeking all along."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Second place

I have been relegated to second position in Blue's hierarchy of human love. I wrote last week of the sweet evening of mutual admiration, when he lay by me as I read. He relaxed and slept. I relaxed and remembered how to breathe deeply.

Then, on Friday night, my son came home from college.

Yes, friends, that was all it took. In just these few days, I may be good for food and water or for a quick pat. But Blue only has eyes for his boy now. He can't be bothered to get up to go outside - unless his boy asks him. He happy dances - only for his boy.

What the heck?! On the other hand, that is just how it should be, isn't it? It warms my heart to see their close bond and know they always have one another's back. They don't even have to be in the same room, but their closeness is palatable. It is, indeed, a happy holiday season for one special Blue-dog.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanks and welcome

I have a few new followers today, so I wanted to take a moment to say "thank you, thank you, thank you" for joining me on this journey. I hope I periodically write something you can use in your own life or that makes you think or gives you that "aha." Let me hear from you; a big part of this journey is learning from one another.

Until tomorrow ...

A little piece of my heart

I ran a rescue transport this weekend. And while my work in rescue always makes me look with new eyes, I can say without reservation that this trip changed me. Ella is pretty typical of many of the dogs we have seen in Welsh Terrier rescue (WTCARES) lately. She is older, she has some health issues and she isn't a shining example of the breed standard.

Her story isn't unique: she was dumped at a shelter in southern Oklahoma, likely gotten rid of by the puppy mill to which she gave her life until they got rid of her. When I picked her up just about two months ago, she was crawling with fleas - literally; it was like her skin was moving - eek! She was dirty and matted. She smelled. She was misshapen from nursing litter upon litter of puppies. She seemed to crouch as she walked; I'm not sure what caused this, maybe she spent all her time in a small crate; I will never know. She had lumps and bumps. And, in what was a first for me, she was swaybacked. At 8-10 years old, she had a lot of "strikes" against her.

Her name - Ella - popped into my brain, and it seemed to fit. She was as ladylike as she was fearful. But her spirit was evident, even hidden beneath the indignities of her life. That first night she slept in an ex-pen full of clean fluffy towels and bowls of fresh water and food. After delivering her to my vet for a health check, I was told she had erlichiosis and had to be treated for that before anything else. For the next few weeks, she was given twice daily doses of medication to fend off this tick-borne disease, one that isn't unusual for puppy mill dogs in this part of the world. When she was strong enough, she was spayed and began the second step in her recovery. There was a bit of interest in her from adopters. Unfortunately, all have cats and Ella is not a fan.

The decision was made to move her to Tennessee, which is where the national chair of breed rescue lives. Ella would stay there until a forever home could be found. Yesterday she continued the journey she began in October when she left her former puppy mill life behind.

Preparing to load up

"But I don't want to ride in a crate!"
She didn't, by the way. That is, she whined and barked until I relented and allowed her to ride in the seat next to me as we made our way east towards Arkansas. We were meeting someone in Ozark, just about 180 miles for us, who take her to meet another transport person in Little Rock and she would go on to Memphis for a couple of days. I don't usually let dogs ride outside of crates; it's too dangerous for both them and for the humans. But ...
Who could resist this face?
As I drove, I had a lot of time to ponder the horrors of recent days. Ella didn't really care for music, so it was quiet except for road noise and her quiet snores as she relaxed into the heated seat. She made one thing clear, however, either I had to be touching her or she had to be in contact with me. At all times. I found this interesting, as many times puppy mill dogs have been so deprived of human contact that they never really welcome touch. Ella is different however. She craves touch and human contact. She is happiest when she can be in direct line of sight. And her tail wags constantly. I haven't seen such an ongoing windshield wiper of a tail in motion in quite a while! She may carry baggage from her former life, but she has relegated it to a place of unimportance where it cannot interfere with her appreciation of the here and now.

And so we traveled. I talked to her and she listened intently when she wasn't sleeping. We shared secrets and ambitions, hopes and dreams, heartache and grief (well, I did). Even in sleep, she would stretch across the center console until the tip of her black nose - or one of her paws - lay ever-so-lightly on my leg. In her silence and her peace, she told me of herself and taught me a lifetime of lessons.

As I have done more times than I can count, I drove to the appointed location and sent Ella along her way. She wasn't happy to get in her crate (I hear she barked on her next two legs of the journey; that would be close to five hours of total barking. Sheesh!). I told her goodbye and that I loved her, that she would have a wonderful life and I would work hard to find her a forever home. And then I spent the first 20 miles of the return trip sobbing. For, you see, Ella gave me more than I ever gave her. She shared her ageless wisdom with my very soul, in ways I have yet to even comprehend. But I can absolutely say that I know that wisdom is there, somewhere deep inside me. She taught me that it is okay to open up for love, even when you have been treated badly, that the reward is worth the risk, that good and loveliness exists in the world and, often, comes in the shape of a little rescue dog.

I pray that Ella will have a long life filled with love and happiness. I will work hard to find a home for her where she will have the time and the space to stretch her bent legs and always be in contact with those who love her. And I will always carry a little piece of Ella in my heart, in exchange for the piece she took of mine. I can only hope that my heart will be as pure and as full of love as hers, that I will greet each day with the exuberance of her tail and her sparkling dark eyes. That I will relish the good in the world and do my best to help good outweigh evil.

As I drove back through Tulsa at dusk, I snapped this photo of the evening sky. It reminded me of the unlimited potential in the world and that, regardless of the vast potential for grief and ugliness and horror, the wisdom of the ages can be found in the heart and spirit of the animals all around us.

Thank you, Ella-Bella. I love you.

P.S. If you know someone who can give Ella the life she deserves, please let me know. Or go to to complete an adoption application. Ella is waiting and she is patient. But I am not, and she deserves nothing but the best!

Friday, December 14, 2012

On human tragedy

It seems to be that humans are the cruelest of animals. No other creatures inflict such horrific acts upon one another. And, yet, we profess to be the most highly evolved.

I believe the time is long since past to look to other animals, to see how they live their lives and to strive to emulate them, rather than continue on the path we have chosen.

Sad beyond measure today. Thankful my dogs do not watch the news, although they are much more attuned to energy and have surely felt the sorrow in the universe today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How do they know?

My son travels home from college today for the Christmas break. I have been telling Blue for several days that his boy is coming home soon and I reminded him yesterday when I told him good night. This morning he was perkier than I've seen him in quite some time, almost like he was quivering. I told him the boy was coming home today and he did that little prance-thing he always does when he's waiting to be fed. He will be so happy!

Their own special language going on the end of this past summer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Special blessing

Last night I received a special blessing from the senior dog in the house, Blue. I will remember it for a long time to come.

Blue came to us in 2004. He is a mixed breed and we have never determined his exact breed(s), but it really doesn't matter. My son has always considered Blue his own special guardian angel, as he arrived just about a month before the kids' dad announced he was leaving. Blue saw "his boy" through the trauma of those early days, the angst of teenage years and, in August 2011, sent him off to college. Blue has always shied away from hugs or too much emotion, except from his boy. That made it even more special last night when he appeared at my bedroom door, asking permission to get on the bed as I was reading.

Once there, he sighed and lay down. He reminded me each time my hand still from petting him, a light paw on my arm. His breathing softened and evened out and, wonder of wonders, he fell asleep on my bed. This is almost unheard of, as Blue is more comfortable in his own room (my son's) or at his spot in front of the dining room window. As I read and listened to his soft breath, I also relaxed and felt the tightness of the day leave my chest.

Always ready for a treat and
counting the days until "his boy" is home for the holidays.
Thank you, Blue, for the gifts you give us each and every day.

I snapped this photo at the city lake on my way to school this morning. The mist was thick on parts of the lake; this little inlet is a spot we loved to explore as children. It's peacefulness reminded me of the serenity Blue gave me last night.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mindfulness and dogs?

I just read a blog post over at Stream of Consciousness about eating mindfully and being thankful for what I/we/you have. And it made me think: do my dogs - or any dogs - eat mindfully?

Honestly, I cannot think that any of my dogs are especially mindful when eating. Perhaps it is a trait particular to humans. Or maybe Carson's methodical attention to her food is mindfulness of a different kind. I do think they are joyful. And grateful. Blue has always danced (pranced, really) while waiting for his bowl. He seems to believe he will never eat again - either that or he can't remember the last time he ate! Whichever, it has his complete attention and is gone almost immediately (and no, the bowls with the knobs don't help, even the smaller size so he has to work harder).

The sheer joy the dogs find in eating is wonderful. And I know I need to be more mindful. Seven years at a high school have taught me to eat quickly and simply for fuel. But the dogs of the Wild Bunch household show me each day that thankfulness for the food we are given is ongoing. And good.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It is raining rescues at WTCARES

The holidays always seem to create a whirlwind of Welsh Terriers coming in to rescue. It may be the same for all rescue organizations, I am sure we aren't unique. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating, depressing and maddening.

I feel so blessed that a nine year-old Welsh gentleman is traveling tomorrow from the Kansas City area to his new home in Boston. His elderly owners passed away and the children didn't feel it was fair for him to spend his days crated while they worked. He patiently waited two months at a boarding facility until the perfect match found him. By this time tomorrow he will be winging his way to a waiting family, a new sense of place and much love. All are confident he will settle in beautifully.

Another senior girl has been in rescue for about six weeks. I picked her up from a shelter in southern Oklahoma in mid-October. She was full of fleas and covered with dreadlocks, had a growth on her shoulder and some mammary tumors from her years as a puppy mill producer. Most seriously, she tested positive for the tick-borne illness, erlichiosis. After wonderful care from the staff at Bristow Veterinary Hospital, she is recuperating and showing her true terrier colors - including a distinct dislike for cats! Next week I will drive her to the home of our national chair of rescue in Tennessee, so that she may spend time in a home environment as we continue to search for a home for her.

Yesterday I listened to a voice mail message from someone who believes they need to surrender their dog. This Welsh Terrier girl has been a family member since she was 10 weeks old; she is now 15 years old. I don't know anything more about her at the moment or the situation in which she finds herself. Just the message was enough to make me both sad and angry and I know I need to get a grip on both before I return the call. After all, it's about what is best for the dog and offending the owner doesn't help the situation. At all! And there are - sometimes - extenuating circumstances. I absolutely understand that. But I pray I am never in the situation of having to make that choice and don't want to even be able to envision such an event. I hope I can provide support and assistance and that, in this instance at least, the dog can remain in her familiar surroundings as she lives out her life. If you can send any good thoughts our way, it would be appreciated.

And, if you would like to open your heart and your home to a rescue Welsh Terrier, please visit WTCARES at There are so many wonderful dogs available and I promise you your life will never be the same again. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In memory of a fine terrier

Shortly after I started tweeting, I found an active and lively group to follow - Border Terriers, their humans and their friends from all over the world. The first of those was Marley, a Border Terrier in Ashtead, Surrey, who, along with his humans and his fellow BT, Lola, entertained and enhanced life on Twitter.

I learned this afternoon that Marley crossed OTRB yesterday, following a valiant battle with a heart ailment. Marley will be missed. You can read more about Marley's last days, in his own words, at

We are teary-eyed here in Oklahoma, mourning Marley's loss. But we also know his family made the hardest and most loving of decisions for him. We cry - and celebrate - with them during this sad time.

RIP, Marley. And thank you for the lessons you taught, the laughter you brought, and the paths you led us down. We are forever changed because of you.

Morning musings

Hmm. What to write today. I am finding that writing a blog post daily without sounding trite or repetitive is something of a challenge. What if what I find interesting or insightful or life-changing doesn't interest anyone else? What if - God forbid - no one else finds my animals as wise as I do? What if my writing isn't suited to a blog? After all, writing has always been to me a bit like giving birth - you put your "baby" out there in the world for others to critique, to judge; what if your baby is called names? Let me tell you, it cuts to the quick!

So I must, as I was once told long ago, develop a thicker skin. I must write what I know and I must write with facts and I must write objectively and stay true to myself. But I must WRITE!

I am happy to announce that my membership has been accepted to the BlogPaws Community. While I am still learning about BlogPaws, I do hope my association will help me become a better, more proficient writer and blogger. And I hope I can give back to BlogPaws, if not immediately, then in the future. You can read a little more about BlogPaws at

Today I am thinking about how to provide good content each and every day - or, at least, most days! I'm doing my research and crossing my fingers. Wish me luck!

The resident canines - Blue, Carson and Marley - hope you will cheer us on and join us regularly ...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why dogs are easier than children ...

... dogs don't have bank debit cards, unlike college-age children. Dogs don't make purchases from unsecured online sites. And dogs don't get calls from the fraud department of their bank saying the account has been compromised and there are attempted charges. From France.

Enough said ...

Monday, December 3, 2012

A dog's sense of smell

Yesterday was spent at the University of Oklahoma for the "Christmas at OU" choir and orchestra concert (my son is in one of the choirs). We didn't actually spend much time with him, but enough to get a couple of hugs along the way.

Saying goodbye & promising to return
That was all it took to make Blue stick to me like glue when we got back home. You see, the son is Blue's boy. Blue arrived on the scene just before a life-changing event in the fall of 2004. He has been my son's rock and guardian angel. While it was difficult when he left for college, the hardest part - by far - was the heart-wrenching scene when he said goodbye to Blue.

Blue smelled his boy. I was thoroughly sniffed and snuffled. He kept looking around, as if he thought his boy would be the next in the door. And when the boy didn't appear, Blue decided to stay close and make the most of it he could. Bless his heart, he will be so much happier when the semester is done - at least for a little while.

Blue, with his paw fur looking like "Max" from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Evening meditations

Our work and life schedule means the animals in my household are left alone each day. I don't like it and wish it was different but, for now, it is our reality. Another reality is, as a single mom to 1-1/2 college students and as some who works in public education in a state that pays teachers very poorly (a ranking of 49th in the country), I work more than one job. Several afternoons each week, I race in from school, change clothes and race out again to drive the 26 miles to my evening job.

So I make a special effort when I come home to make sure the dogs feel loved. It's always late (anywhere from 10:30 p.m. to midnight). Marley sleeps in my daughter's room, so I know he is stretched out across her legs, effectively holding her captive all night. Blue greets me at the back door, does his special dance for attention and a fresh bowl of water and is generally his happy self (he probably hopes he can convince me he needs another meal; that boy always acts as though he will never eat again!). And that leaves Miss Carson, my whirling dervish.

I can hear Carson as soon as I walk in the kitchen from the garage. She starts spinning in her crate, located next to my bed. Even though I know she's had her big bowl of water and been out for her last trip of the night, I may let Blue and her out again while I change clothes. It usually depends on how late it is, how tired I am, and if I work in the morning.

When they come in, I tuck Blue in for the night. His favored spot is on his huge LL Bean bed next to the front window in the dining room. From there he can survey our cul de sac, keeping a sharp eye out for neighborhood cats and periodic wildlife, including opossums and skunks. I really need to reinforce that window ... Or he may head to his crate for a while; it's located in my son's room. Blue is funny though, he often won't sleep in the bedroom when his boy is away at school. When he first left for college a year ago, Blue didn't darken the door to the room until after the Thanksgiving Break.

I pop Carson into her crate while I clean up and get ready for bed. She sits with her head cocked in that typical terrier fashion, watching every move I make. Or she crosses her front paws and waits patiently for me to finish.

Carson's very ladylike crossed front legs:

And then we snuggle. When I was married, dogs were rarely allowed on the bed, at least after the human children came along. Or on the sofa, or, or ... So we snuggle a lot at our house. I can hardly get in the bed because Carson is always so excited. I slide in and she gets as close as she can - she's a licking machine, we have to work on that - and she flops over to ensure her belly and legs get a full rubdown. Minutes tick by but she never tires of the attention. As I slowly wind down, her massage slows as well, which means she will readjust or lick my hand to remind me she's there. Sometimes, after 30 minutes or so, she can be enticed to go to sleep, which she does with a huge sigh. Other times she wants to play and that means she must sleep in her crate next to my bed. When she's there, I swear she has a third eye that is awake all night; if I so much as turn over she knows it!

Some nights I really just want to go to sleep, but I realize this is a gift Carson gives me when I take the time to accept it. My breathing slows, my thoughts still, I focus completely on this little 20 pound black and tan bundle of boundless energy. And I just am ...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nothing like a dog fight

to get the adrenaline racing on a Saturday morning. No one was injured, but it was a fascinating look at pack dynamics.

I'll write more about it later but suffice it to say it was a reminder to listen to those little voices constantly chattering in my head!

Now off to get some holiday shopping done before heading to work tonight - now THAT will be a true dog fight.