Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Whether the weather ...

I don't know about where you live, but the weather in Oklahoma has been especially finicky in recent days. Cold and coldish for the past few weeks, some sleet, some snow-type substance (nothing major). Then, last week, it became nearly spring-like. By Monday, it was in the mid-70s and the dogs were tearing around the back yard full of glee. I couldn't blame them; it was warmer in the yard than in the house!

Yesterday morning brought a typical Oklahoma day, where the weather makes several major changes in the course of 24 hours. The day dawned dark and cloudy, storm clouds rolled in and we managed to get a fair amount of rain. Well, it's all relative, and we have had so much drought than anything more than a light mist is greatly appreciated. Tornado watches until midday, wind, driving rain - you get the picture. I walked outside from work late yesterday afternoon and it was cooler, but not bad for a January day.

THIS morning it was in the low 30s (F) when I left home. What?! Oh, and with a brisk wind. Last night and this morning, the dogs "did their business" quickly. They don't really like the cold and they definitely don't like it when it's cold and windy in the yard - which happens a lot in our yard, as there is no protection. It's been windy all day, but the sun in shining so I will try not to complain too much. However, I can guarantee those wimpy four-legged furries I live with will make short work in the yard this evening. They much prefer a lap or a cozy spot on the couch to chasing one another in the yard.

All the weather changes seem to confuse them, though. They will pop up to go outside, make a beeline for the back door and then put on the brakes if the weather they encounter isn't to their liking or what they expect. Marley seems to have mastered the art of going out in the rain and never getting particularly wet - even his feet! Blue is done and back at the door before it's barely closed. Carson - naturally - is the most oblivious and usually is up to her elbows in red clay mud. And that's even when the weather is dry!

I think we are all fair-weather lovers at our house. We love having the doors and windows open to a soft breeze and temperatures in the mid-60s to about 80F. Anything either side of that just doesn't work for us. This, of course, begs the question of why we live in Oklahoma, known for temperature extremes (sometimes within the same 24 hour period) and not particularly known for a great amount of temperate weather.

What do you - and your animals - think is perfect weather, perfect temperature? Do you have it where you live? If not, where can you find it (yes, this time of year I'm always convinced I'm going to move before the next sunrise!)?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Are your pets prepared for severe weather? Are you?

It's hard to believe but today - on January 29 - we have our first tornado warning of 2013. Just the other night, my daughter and I were discussing our "hidey holes" and the challenges of fitting three dogs in them with us. You can bet that if and when I am able to have a different house, I will make darned sure there is either a storm room or a space large enough for everyone, including crates!

In our current home, the most logical spots are the closet in my son's room (provided we can throw all of his junk out of the way) or the bottom of the linen closet in the main hallway. Our bathrooms/bathtubs are both on outside walls, so those wouldn't work in a storm. Our house sits on top of a small rise, with major west-southwest exposure - not good given most of our storms move southwest to northeast. Neither "safe" spot (and that's a relative term) we have now can accommodate the dogs and their crates, so we have to put the dogs in the crates - with leashes on, just in case - and have them shelter in place. It isn't perfect, but it the best we can do at this time.

Some significant weather events are easier to plan for, animal-wise. Tornadoes and severe storms, not so much. They come quickly and then are gone, making it somewhat difficult to rearrange closets and such. But it is important to consider and just as important to make whatever advance plans are possible to ensure everyone's safety.

When I was leaving home this morning, the thunder had started and the western sky was dark with clouds, although we are only supposed to catch the very tail end of the severe thunderstorm headed our way. The tornado watch lasts until noon. I am looking out my library windows as I write this post. What I see is gray and windy but, then again, my windows face northeast! I told the dogs storms are expected. I left lights and music on and blinds drawn so any lightning wouldn't be quite so bright. Blue is the only one who frets and worries during storms. I hope he will hunker down and ride out any flashes and rumbles without too much trouble. But I know I will worry about them - more than usual - today. And I will continue to send them love and prayers for safekeeping.

If you live in a part of the country where severe weather makes shelter important, is yours big enough for your animals (and their crates)? If not, what do you do when faced with bad weather? And what else do you think is important to have at hand? For me, it's flashlight, phone, shoes. And pillows to cover our heads. You?

(As I finished writing, the rain started down  in sheets. I can hear it on the roof of the school. The wind is picking up. We could be in for a bit of a siege - and if this is the "tail end" of the storm system, well, geez!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

My favorite traits

Do your animals have traits or do things that make you laugh, smile, make your heart melt or simply feel good? Each of my dogs has their own special "thing." Most of the time they are endearing although, rarely, these same traits can be irritating or even dangerous.

For big boy Blue, it's all about food. He literally dances when he decides it's time to eat or when his food is being prepared - or just about any activity having to do with food, to be honest! It can be pretty funny to see this big guy prancing around on his hind legs, hopping from one leg to the other, in some intricate doggie dance.

With Marley, it is all tennis balls all the time. There must be a dozen of them, all over the house and yard. He HAS to have one in his mouth when he goes out, but not just any of the 12 or so will do. Some are favored more than others. And, just so you know, he never actually brings one back inside. I pick them up every other day and we start the process all over again. When he's inside, he strategically places a ball just behind human feet - in the kitchen, the bathroom - wherever.   All the better to break one's neck when it is stepped on!

And then there is Carson. Just today when I came in from work, she was waiting at the kitchen door for me. As is her habit, she raised up and starting batting at me with her front legs and paws. She's a master at it: she uses her legs like little arms. She is forever grabbing, wrapping, swatting. And always with such joyous glee and pure happiness. I never get tired of seeing her in action.

So many canine mannerisms are subtle. They require observation skills and close attention to detail. Other times? Well, my dogs couldn't be much more obvious with these mannerisms. Thank goodness I am (slowly) learning to pay attention.

What signature traits do your animals have? And what do they mean?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A tragedy averted

The following story comes from a friend of mine in Minnesota. Her name is Sage Lewis and she has given permission for her experiences to be shared with others in the hopes of preventing other potential tragedies such as this. She and her dog, Java, are very lucky. And, as Sage writes, Java obviously knew what to do to help as best she could in recent weeks. Dogs are miraculous creatures, aren't they?

All who know Sage and Java are thankful the mystery is solved and that they are both on the road to recovery. A second excerpt follows Sage's story. It offers some clarification, corrections and additional information on recommendations Sage makes for staying safe.

I hope you will read, remember and give this link to others. The lives you save could be your own and that of your precious animals.


Monday, January 21, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

Hi, Everyone-
It appears the mystery's been solved....

Please add this to your list of "one big reason an animal (or human) might not be feeling well."

The beginning of October, my dog, Java began being finicky with food - first time in her life. This coincided with the death of her dog friend, and the beginning of heating season. Java turned 12 on 11/2.

In November, she began skipping meals and having seizure-like episodes. In December, her symptoms worsened and, on January 1, she stopped eating on her own completely.

As the fall/winter unfolded, Java's health issues became more severe: vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, confusion, lack of coordination, seizures and lack of appetite.

Vets, healers and animal communicators revealed a variety of information - all of which supported her healing in many ways, but was inconclusive as far as a diagnosis. She wasn't getting better. 

A week ago, I dug deeper into my own well of confidence and intuition. I refused to give up hope because it appeared to me that she "just didn't feel well." [It] seemed like she had a virus.

On Friday morning, I had a routine tune-up scheduled for my furnace with a company I had never worked with - a coupon I had purchased in the fall from Living Social. January was the soonest appointment.

After checking the furnace for three minutes, the guy came upstairs with a shocked look and informed me he had to condemn my furnace immediately and turn off the gas, that I had lethal amounts of carbon monoxide coming from the furnace. He told me Java and I were lucky to be alive. 

My new furnace has less than 23ppm in the flue. The old furnace was over 500ppm which can kill in three hours.

We were the first call of the day, so my furnace was turned off two hours after it kicked in. There were angels watching over us. I'm humbled and incredibly grateful.

For six weeks, Java has gotten me up between 2 and 3 a.m. to go outside and go potty. In hindsight, it wasn't a bladder issue, it was a need for fresh air. I don't doubt she saved both of us.

The symptoms for CO poisoning are not always noticed by humans unless they're severe. Animals are obviously hit a lot harder.

A saving grace may have been the tri-weekly vet visits that got her out of the house for a few hours, and the multitude of errands we ran. (I was told to keep her quiet so her spleen could rest, but I decided to let her be herself and bounce around the car when I ran into stores rather than stay home.) I figured if she was going to burst her spleen, she'd at least be happy doing it! Now I'm glad I took her with me so much.

At this point, we are hopeful Java will recover fully. I've been force feeding her a liver tonic diet for over a week (before the furnace issue), so that's helped her regain a lot of her fire. It will take time. Even though she's 12, she is a strong dog with a strong spirit, and has had wonderful love and care. Me, I feel a little "off" but I'm taking good care of myself. Reaching out is a part of that.

So, please have the gas chambers checked in your furnace. Not all companies do this on a routine check. I had two cracked gas chambers on Friday - who knows for how long. I have had my furnace checked yearly by a company who I'm finding out doesn't always do a complete check in their tune up. 

Please also consider installing at least two CO detectors that are close to the ground.* I had one installed with a good battery and it didn't discharge. It was above a door near the bedroom. I now have three in my house, as well as a brand new furnace, and fresh air.

So, I'm sending love and gratitude to all of you, and a big thank you to everyone who reached out to us with their "out of the box ideas".


 *"If you are a user of natural gas, we recommend you mount your unit high on the wall (no closer than 15cm (6") from the ceiling) using the extendable cord feature to ensure the earliest opportunity to detect a natural gas leak.

If you are a user of propane, we recommend you mount your unit near the floor (using the direct plug in feature) to ensure the earliest opportunity to detect a propane leak.

Propane is much heavier than air and will collect at lower levels

Both propane and natural gas are colourless and odourless.  For safety reasons, an odourant (mercaptan) is added so that any leak can be detected by smell."

NEVER enter your home if you hear the gas alarm going off inside.

Note: quoted from the Garrison handbook.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Please explain this to me!

Another migraine headache today - ouch. I am on the sofa in the living room. Carson is in her crate, in my/our/her bedroom, chewing on a bone, with the door close.

So,  how is it that when I turn over or even move slightly (and very carefully, so my head doesn't fall off), she stops everything she is doing and barks?

I continue to be amazed. How does she DO THAT?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Weekend photos ...
Marley buried his head to sleep.

Even a piece of toast must be delicately eaten!

Carson rarely sits still!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In and out and in and out and ...

A few (quite a few) years ago, I saw a darling clock at an antique mall. In the place of numerals, it read, "Let the dog in" and "Let the dog out." I have always, always regretted not getting it when I had the chance, as it pretty much sums up life in our household.


I realized yesterday we are a bit different since Marley came to live with us. Now our schedule is a bit more like this:

1. Pick up tennis balls in the house and put them away.
2. Marley grabs a ball each time he goes out.
3. Pick up tennis balls in the yard and bring them in; put them away.
4. Marley grabs a ball each time he comes in and leaves it in the house.
5. Repeat.

Ahh, life with dogs.

While Marley's ball of choice will always be a tennis ball, he loves them all!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Animals and the decision-making process

2013 will be another year of great change in our household. My youngest child will graduate from high school and go away to college. My oldest child is hoping to land a summer internship with a non-profit he greatly admires - in Florida. And opportunities present themselves, if we are paying enough attention to see them.

I am a planner, sometimes too much so. Maybe I spent too much time in crisis communications, considering the "what ifs" and working out plans accordingly. Whatever it is, I look ahead, consider the possibilities and work out possible scenarios to proceed. Talk about not living in the present! It is a trait I'm trying to work on, as it really isn't necessary to worry quite so much about what could happen instead of focusing on what is happening. Right. This. Very. Moment.

One aspect that I don't think is over-thinking is planning for my animals. If I do this or that, how will it affect them or how will I ensure their health and comfort. I realized this morning (as I spent leisurely extra time in bed - yes!) that I rarely plan without taking them into account.

For instance, if I want to go out to a dinner or show, I need to feed the dogs early enough for them to have time to go out to "take care of business." And I cannot be gone so long that they will have spent too long crated or without going out.

If I work away from town, I need to plan to be back and home at about the same time or I need to arrange for someone to come in to allow the dogs a potty break and to stretch their legs.

When I used to have someone clean the house, it had to be a person who wasn't afraid of dogs and who could work around crates with dogs in them.

Travel? Hmm, that usually means taking at least one dog with me. In all fairness, I haven't traveled except to attend a dog-related event or activity in several years. If even one dog is kenneled during that time, the vet/kennel has emergency information - for health care and in the event something happens to me and the dogs need to be cared for by others. And the ones who travel with me must have their own food and water. Travel accommodations must cheerfully accept animals and, hopefully, offer safe and plentiful walking areas. I look for restaurants and rest stops that have grass and shade so dogs can be walked.

And my home. When possible, I like to consider how my dogs will live in my house and yard. Is there a secure fence or can it be secured? Is there room in the house for dogs, crates and beds, room to stretch out? If I replace a piece of furniture, is it dog-friendly? That is one reason I may never give up the massive leather sofa that absolutely dominates my living room - it's pretty easy dog-wise.

If I were to choose a new place to live, I would consider walkability, traditional and alternative vet care, community friendliness or acceptance of animals and other, related factors when making my choice of city, town, neighborhoods.

When I look at this, I wonder how others must see me - possibly like the crazy lady who worries too much about her animals. But, you know, I wouldn't change a thing. The pure joy and happiness that greet me each time I walk through my door. Absolutely obedience - nope. Unfailing good behavior - seriously? No. But there is always someone - and some act of willful joy - to make me smile and unwind. Even just a little bit and for a little while.

So, make me feel not quite so alone. Add to my list. Do you consider your animals front and center when making business, career or personal decisions or plans? Give me some examples; I will probably add them to my list. And, while you're at it, tell me where you think the most dog-friendly and dog-savvy places are - for travel, for living, for life with dogs.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I have a request today. A long-time friend in California must soon say goodbye to her beloved vizsla, Bella. If you wouldn't mind, please take a moment to offer prayers, positive vibes and/or thoughts of encouragement, peace and healing to Bella and her family. Those of us who love animals know far too well the heartache that accompanies this part of the circle of life.

In the well-known words of Irving Townsend:

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."

God bless, Bella. And god-speed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

On a wet, cold night, a full stomach and a comfy end of the sofa are the best solutions ...

Jacob Marley

Until it's time to move to the other end ... 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's deadline time of year!

Between now and January 15, I must prepare 50% of the high school yearbook for submission to the publisher. Needless to say, things are wild and crazy at work and at home. I apologize for the inconvenience, but posting will likely be a bit spotty between now and then. There have been some amazing - and some terribly frustrating - experiences in recent days that I truly want to share. I hope to have the time to write coherently at least a few times this week.

Thanks so much for understanding!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Canine resolutions

Resolutions never work out too well for me, for any number of reasons. Most often, I set too many expectations for myself, given extremely limited time and resources.

For 2013, I have tried to avoid that trap. My personal resolutions are more works-in-progress than concrete plans and, while most involve the dogs, I felt like I should make some dog-specific resolutions, as well. This wasn't quite as easy as I expected it to be, although I did come up with a few.

First, all dogs will be brushed, nails trimmed and teeth cleaned on a regular basis. It's more hit-and-miss now. Not only will the dogs look and feel better, but I am hopeful this can help curb the fur bunnies all over the house!

Next, walkies will be taken. Regularly. With the temperatures as cold as they are at the moment, I am hesitant to be any more specific. But it WILL happen - for all of us.

Finally, each dog will serve as my TTouch practice partner, on an ongoing and rotating basis (probably every week). I will work on one specific touch for a week on one dog, same touch the following week in the second dog, and the same touch for a third week on dog number three. This gives me time to really work on each touch, discovering nuances and differences in pressure, hand movement/placement and so on. At the same time, I hope to see changes in the dogs based on the ongoing work. I plan to keep a journal and will update here regularly.

So, what resolutions - if any - have you made for and with your animals in the new year? We would love to hear about them; in fact, we're all ears (and black nose!).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Saddest dog ever ...

My son returned to college this morning, after just arriving back home from a week at his father's last night. Blue was SO HAPPY to see him, then promptly fell into a state of moping as items began streaming from the bedroom to the car. The energy coming from Blue was clear: "You told me you were staying with me a while and now you are already leaving again. I don't like this."

It makes me sad, but I don't know what to do - or how - to help Blue over these humps. About the time he really settles into a rhythm, the boy comes home again for a day or a few days. Blue is ecstatic and gets into a groove. Then he's gone again. I try to tell him, to explain to him, but there isn't a schedule and he simply doesn't understand why his boy has to be gone so much. It makes my heart hurt for him (and for me, if I'm honest). I need to ponder it some more and try to figure out how to ensure our reigning senior citizen understands and accepts that this is how life is now.

Poor guy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Easing into 2013

It is a quiet morning here on our little hill - cloudy, wet and cold. Of course, Carson always gets up at the same time, regardless of the weather or what may have happened the day before to make the humans especially tired and hopeful for extra sleep.

And so I spent a leisurely morning catching up on the blogs I follow and website I visit regularly. One of those is the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts. An author by the name of Brian Leaf was discussing his recently published book. His words hit home with me because I realize that while I will never know all I want to/would like to/maybe even should know about animal behavior, I do know a fair amount. And, as the author mentioned from his own experiences (with yoga), it is always a balancing act to share that knowledge as a gift, offered (and accepted) freely. And I need to love and accept what I know as a gift, regardless of anyone else. THAT is my reality - to love and accept, as Leaf writes, "every one of my experiences, feelings and thoughts."

Isn't that what our animals teach us, as they live in the present. They accept all gifts with love and acceptance. They offer their own gifts in the same way. So simple and, yet, so complex.

I do believe I would like to read Brian Leaf's book. His writing style seemed accessible and engaging. For those interested, it is titled Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi.